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GPs have faced too much criticism, says NHS England medical director

NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has said that he feels there has been ’overcriticism’ of GPs in the recent past.

Giving evidence to MPs on the House of Commons Health Committee yesterday, he said too much negativity comes ‘at our peril’.

Sir Bruce, a cardiac surgeon, said he thinks being a GP is ‘one of the hardest jobs in medicine’, adding that it was ’important to say that at a time when general practice is going through quite a lot of turmoil’.

Sir Bruce said: ’I’d just like to pay some credit to people that work in primary care. Because it seems to me that, through a number of routes, there has been quite a lot of criticism of primary care in the recent past and I think there is a risk of over-criticism at our peril.’

He said that comes as both GPs and their staff are having to deal with increasing demand, rising expections and increasing complexity in their patient workload.

He said: ’In my view it is a really hard job. They have to be clinically, intellectually and emotionally strong… Day in, day out, I think general practitioners are having to sort out the wheat from the chaff to identify major clinical problems masquerading as minor ailments. It’s ugly, relentless, and I think it requires quite a lot of intellectual flexibility.’

Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, who chairs the health committee, said his comments were likely to be ‘deeply appreciated’.

Readers' comments (40)

  • ..........Day in, day out, I think general practitioners are having to sort out the wheat from the chaff to identify major clinical problems masquerading as minor ailments. It’s ugly, relentless, and I think it requires quite a lot of intellectual flexibility."

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  • My staff has just been called 'stupid foreigners' by a patient who has been rude twice in the pas and all because he was 15 mins late for his appointment and told to re-book!
    This was the last straw. But we do expect aggression to grow as the situation in NHS frontline worsens ! NHSE ought to help and not patronize struggling Practices which is what they have been doing. It is a positive thing that the NHSE Director expresses sympathy- I do hope he will help bring in a change of attitude of NHSE towards primary care.

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  • Too late Brucey mate! The wheels have come off the cess wagon. You need to do more than spout platitudes

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  • "Didn't he do well!"

    but talk is cheap Sir Bruce.

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  • His comments are deeply appreciated in the same way as someone gives a bunch of flowers to a grieving person - kind thought but practically worthless.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Chinese saying:
    You respect me one foot (length), I give you back a yard.
    Problem is there was no respect to us from day one from you guys.

    And , yes, politics is all about talking, show us some actions...

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  • will this lead to
    1) less criticism - no
    2) more investment - no
    3) less over regulation - no (much more expected)
    4) any support for these poor struggling practices - none
    5) less complaints from all and sundry to the GMC, cqc, ombudsman....no no no.

    so thanks Brucie but not going to make any difference whatsoever

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  • I suspect some nasty thing is going to follow this complimentary statement. Anyway its too late, does not cut with me. Would like to see some positive action not just empty words. But I know that will never happen.

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  • Er, yes, including from you Bruce. You just don't get it, do you? Sadly you are closing the stable door not just after the horse has bolted, but after it's run into traffic, been obliterated by a juggernaut and melted down for render and dog food. You and your clueless brethren have murdered our institution, Bruce - forgive me if I shrug and cry "crocodile tears" now I see you expressing regret. When your emergency departments resemble the workhouse at feeding time this christmas or next, you'll miss those old GP's you used to bang on mercilessly about. Now kindly go away, i have sixteen left to see in my evening surgery before i finish at 830pm, lazy idiot that i am.

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  • TOO LATE.
    I walked out at end of July aged 49. Had enough and I am setting up a business selling trailers. When I think back to the thankless task of being a full time GP doing nine sessions a week it feels like years ago. I get up early, I am cheerful all day, I have virtually stopped drinking and I recommend it to everyone. I don't have much money but in spite of the Daily Mail concept that GPs are overpaid I never had £110K to spend yearly after more tax than Cadbury's a hefty pension payment plus NI. Just resign, it's bloody marvellous.

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