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GPs hit back at ‘incendiary’ attack on general practice by surgeon in the Daily Mail

GP leaders have hit back at claims put forward by an oncological surgeon in the Daily Mail that general practice was unfit for purpose.

In yesterday’s Daily Mail, Professor J. Meirion Thomas – who has previously singled out female doctors as the cause of the NHS’s workforce woes – said general practice was ‘hopelessly outmoded’ and called for GPs to be taken over by hospitals, with ‘specialist nurses’ handling the majority of care.

He seized on ‘risk ratings’ – which are used by the CQC for prioritising inspections and were released to the public on Monday – as evidence that one in six practices ‘could be putting patients at risk through their inadequacies’, despite the CQC stating the rankings do not amount to a ‘judgement’ of practices.

Writing in Pulse today, Dr Saira Ghafur and Dr Roisin Finn – clinical fellows to NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh – and Dr Nikita Kanani, vice-chair of Bexley CCG, counter Professor Thomas’s claims.

Professor Thomas states: ‘As the inadequacies of general practice become ever-more apparent, the only answer from the politicians seems to be to pour more money into the system and create yet more GP posts.’

But the response from the GPs explains that, far from this being the case, between 2008/09 and 2011/12 ‘the total number of consultations in general practice is estimated to have risen from 300.4m to 340m’,  while their proportion of the NHS budget has ‘dropped from 10.95% in 2005/06 to 8.5% in 2011/12’.

Similarly, they highlight that Professor Thomas’s claims that GPs ‘simply do not keep up with the latest developments in healthcare’ completely ignores the requirements to demonstrate this in appraisal and revalidation.

Far from general practice being unwilling to reform, it is actually leading it, they say: ‘Changes are being made both at ground level and policy level to address these issues. However, unreasonably criticising his colleagues who provide the majority of care delivery is incendiary and unnecessary.

‘As a surgeon who works in tertiary care and also in the private sector, perhaps Professor Thomas would like to visit a busy general practice to understand the increasingly complex nature of a GP’s workload and the challenges involved in delivering high-quality care on an increasingly constrained budget.’

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Readers' comments (114)


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  • I believe I have just diagnosed someone with dementia. That will be 58 pounds. Thank you very much

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  • Maybe the Royal College of Surgeons will take some action?

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  • For those who want to read more.....

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  • I have asked the GMC if his article breaches fitness to practice

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I'm glad a couple of you HAVE reported him. Rather than expecting others to do it. It only takes c 30 mins and I have already done Prof Field this week. I don't want to be a frequent flyer

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  • As an experience Advanced Nurse Practitioner in primary care I can truly state that without the support and collaboration of my fantastic GP colleagues my career would be impossible to persue. GPs and ANPs really enhance each other's skills and abilities for the benefit of the patient. I would not wish to work under the terms as described Prof Thomas. As many previous comments point out "Professor come and walk I our shoes and sit in our seats for a little while" . I do hope his comments have been taken out of context but one can never be sure?

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  • Expect nothing to come back from the GMC. I reported the doctor who wrote this similarly undermining article a few years back:

    and absolutely nothing happened.

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  • The GMC are only accountable to a parliamentary select committee or the High Court. They can choose not to investigate or to investigate anyone they please. Unless a party can afford hugely expensive High Court costs to seek a review of any decision. This is why a proper judical process is needed for healthcare professionals in this country from the outset rather than 'self regulation' which amounts to 'trial by village elders'.

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