Recruitment rationing: GP magazine calls on political parties to support general practice

Nick Bostock in GP Magazine 1st August writes: Exclusive: GP magazine calls on political parties to support general practice

Political parties have not sufficiently increased numbers in medical schools, relied on overseas graduates for decades, and now wonder why the system is imploding. The meltdown of rural District General Hospitals, and the recruitment problems in General Practice will take at least three governments to correct. Hence the call for all parties to agree…. Why not take the opportunity to ration overtly, and to create more doctors than we need?

GP leaders have backed a call by GP magazine for England’s three main political parties to make a statement in support of general practice, as the growing crisis puts intolerable strain on the profession.

The GPC, RCGP, NHS Alliance, National Association of Primary Care and Family Doctor Association have all lent their support to GP’s call for politicians to show they value general practice.

The president of the Medical Practitioners Union (MPU), part of the Unite union, has also voiced his support for the appeal to politicians.

Less than a year from the general election, practices across the UK are under unprecedented pressure.

GP morale is in freefall, with the share of NHS funding spent on general practice at the lowest level on record, the workforce in decline, practices starved of premises investment, soaring workload and falling profits.

Groundswell of support for practices

A groundswell of support for practices hit hard by funding cuts has begun to emerge, underscoring
patients’ support and appreciation for GPs.

But GP leaders agree the profession is now near breaking point and warn that political leaders must take action to prevent a catastrophic impact on patient care.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said GP’s call for politicians to support general practice was a ‘crucial’ part of the fight to protect the profession.

‘This has to be a fundamental part of the 2015 general election debate,’ he said. ‘Getting the message across to politicians that if they want to save the NHS, they have to invest in general practice, the foundation of the health service.’

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We are pleased to back GP’s call on all major political parties in England to promote more positive messages about general practice.

Politicians must support the profession

‘GPs across the UK are working harder than ever to provide safe care to our patients. We need politicians to support our profession, to show what an exciting, varied and rewarding job being a GP can be – and what a difference we make to our patients’ lives. We also need politicians to act on our calls for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget by 2017.’

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said simultaneous reforms to MPIG and PMS contracts had put practices at risk.

He warned that NHS leaders could not expect GPs to deliver ‘serious ambitions’, such as taking on work moved out of hospitals, if they were treated as ‘an afterthought’.

Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said that claims of a general practice crisis
had been repeated ‘every year for the past 20 years’.

‘But there really is a crisis,’ he said. ‘We have to stop people subverting the argument into this being about doctors’ pay. It isn’t.

‘We have accepted that our pay is going down – we want enough resources to provide the auxiliary
and nursing staff and keep facilities open longer, maintain quality and pay for locums.

‘If general practice got the proportion of the health budget we had five years ago, I don’t think we would have anything like as many problems.’

National Association of Primary Care chairman Dr Charles Alessi said: ‘Primary care and general practice are not being supported as much as they should be by NHS England.’

He said PMS practices were being ‘attacked unnecessarily’ and warned that little action had been taken by NHS officials to resolve the premises crisis, although there had been ‘every opportunity to do so’.

Dr Ron Singer, president of the MPU, said: ‘I would like to support GP‘s call on political leaders to pledge support for general practice.

‘It is curious that GPs are meant to have been placed at the centre of the NHS but find themselves victims of underfunding and an impossible workload. Patients need a quality general practice service – the NHS needs it too if we are to re-establish the NHS as a premier, comprehensive health service.’

Read more: Editorial – Now is the time to Save our Surgeries

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Patient representatives, Professionals, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “Recruitment rationing: GP magazine calls on political parties to support general practice

  1. Pingback: GP Training figures “worst in seven years” – we need to train more doctors urgently. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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