A Suffolk health boss has warned that, while the new health plan has some positives, Thérèse Coffey's proposals 'leave too many worrying gaps'.

The new health secretary detailed 'Our Plan for Patients' in the House of Commons which, amongst other targets, has notably set a two-week maximum wait for GP appointments.

Chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk Andy Yacoub commented that the "overall ambition of the plan is welcome and it is positive that the announcement has some focus on patient experience."

However, he believes health and social care systems require longer-term planning and funding commitments to meaningfully address many of the long-standing challenges they are facing.

When Thérèse Coffey was first appointed as secretary for health and social care, she set out her priorities using the ABCD acronym - ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.

Mr Yacoub said that while this was inclusive of some of the key components, it "leaves too many worrying gaps and fails to articulate the depth and breadth of change that is needed".

He highlighted significant problems in the recruitment and retention of nursing staff, the lack of adequate mental health provision for children, young people and adults, particularly in Suffolk, and the struggle for maternity services to provide safe care.

Mr Yacoub added: "There are too few clinicians and staff, and they are exhausted and struggling to provide effective care consistently across services."

On ITV's Good Morning Britain, Ms Coffey was asked about the 130,000 vacancies across the NHS to which Ms Coffey responded by saying that funding would be unlocked for this purpose.

To combat retention issues, the Our Plan for Patients document sets out how NHS pension rules will be changed to "retain more experienced NHS staff and remove the barriers to staff returning from retirement".

The new plans mean patients will be able to see how well their GP practice performs in comparison with others and will employ a range of workers to help ease the burden on GPs.

Ms Coffey detailed that urgent cases should be seen on the same day, introduced a two-week maximum wait-time target for all GP appointments and also committed to a four-hour A&E target.

Mr Yacoub recognised that access to primary care has been a problem both in Suffolk and the wider UK for many years, with GP provision varying across the county.

"In some communities, people have very little confidence that they can obtain help and support from their practice when they need it most, while in other parts of Suffolk this is much less of a concern," said Mr Yacoub.

"More action is needed to address this disparity in access across our county, but we do, however, express some scepticism that new targets for primary care are the answer to addressing this inequality."

The new health secretary is also focussing on making processes more efficient, by increasing the number of 999 call handlers to 2,500 and NHS 111 call handlers to 4,800.

She has pledged a £500 million fund to enable medically fit people to be discharged from hospital more quickly and said the government would be "exploring the creation of an ambulance auxiliary service".

Commending Ms Coffey's focus on backlogs, Mr Yacoub added that finding better ways to support people while they are waiting for NHS care "must be an absolute priority".

"People need reassurance that the NHS is still there to help them and that they haven't been forgotten," said Mr Yacoub.

The government has also pledged to address variation in dental care to tackle "dental deserts", saying it will make it easier for dentists who trained overseas to practice in the NHS.

However, Mr Yacoub believes that Thérèse Coffey's plan fails to address a vital issue in committing to review social care provision, saying: "It does not recognise how different parts of our health and care systems are fundamentally interconnected and dependent upon each other."