This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

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.’

Read the full article here

Readers' comments (114)

  • just as a scientific experiment ... why don't all 40,000 GPs just revert to Indpendent Private Practices just for a few months and see how well the rest of the NHS copes. The Prof can then have his evidence of how useful we really are. I know for sure no GP will go starving.

    The best quote I have read in the daily mail was from a very understanding non-doctor commentator who said ' there are no shortage of patients but there is a shortage of GPs so who will lose out?'

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Took Early Retirement

    Google him: GPs, unlike specialist sarcoma surgeons, do not have a private practice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    This is just the beginning. I warned you the heat would be intense as all furnaces against GP partnerships are being turned on full blast in the run up to the General Electiom. The aim of their game as many surmise may very well be to shut down the NHS and step 2 is aimed at GP partnerships, as step 1 was already achieved against IMGs.

    London Mayor Boris Johnson organised for Chair of Surgery Lord Darzi to lead the London Health Committee to reorganise healthcare in London. https://www.london.gov.uk/media/assembly-press-releases/2014/10/the-mayor-needs-more-health-powers-for-london We will hear what this lead surgeon has to say on November 25.

    In the meantime Lambeth CCG GP Chair Dr Adrian Maclachlan told us that London GPs are worse off than nationally as they receive only 6-7% of the budget and not 8% like GPs outside London!

    Sounds like some senior surgeons may be working with the Tory old boys? Consultants are already writing to our GPs to chase hospital investigation results that the consultants themselves ordered! And one arm of Kings College Hospital tells local GPs to order the MRI before referral but when the GP tries to, another arm of Kings tells them GPs are not allowed to. Doing GPs heads in?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been deleted

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Took Early Retirement

    This comment has been deleted

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I find it interesting that so many are surprised by the Daily Mail article. Many secondary care colleagues (and not just medics) question the value of general practice. As a GP, I welcome the debate and I would not want to use the GMC argument in order to gag those who don’t see what I see. As GPs, most of us fully understand the value of what we do and the cost-effectiveness of general practice. We will need to use evidence and unemotional arguments to persuade those who doubt it. By the way, secondary care clinicians are not the only ones who think that nurses can replace GPs. I know of many GP practices who use nurses instead of GPs because it is cheaper. I don’t think this is cost-effective and I am not aware of any cost-effectiveness studies that show what the minimum number of GPs/1000 patients should be to maintain patient safety and the best value.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is too much to raise the GPs' blood pressures these days. Personally I had a good chuckle at the Prof's expense. I thought all the Sir Lancelots were long gone. It's rather charming that there are still one or two left in the woodwork. Surely no one takes him seriously.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • If 92% of consultations are useless, Prof T does not think much of the patients. Prof T is entitled to his opinion that most if not all GPs are stupid, do not keep up to date and could be replaced by a nurse trained for 6/12, even though you need 2 Bs and a C to get into nursing and 4 As to get into medicine, even to be a stupid GP.
    That is all acceptable. What is not acceptable is to tell straightforward untruths, such as there has been money thrown at General practice, when in actual fact funding has fallen by 3 %.
    There has been almost no increase in the number of whole time equivalent GPs, compared to the population increase, whereas Consultants have gone up by 88% in 15 years. Consultation rates in GP land has gone up 100% in this time and 40% in secondary care. So really, it is secondary care who are working less compared to us.
    However, Prof T is a surgeon and a brilliant operator, but simple percentages and arithmetic is just not his cup of tea and he has no understanding of basic maths. After all, he is a surgeon. What do you expect?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Please, please do not confuse the poor man with arithmetic. You know about statistics, no body understands them. Ignorance is bliss, for some people. It is hard to believe that there are folks as dumb as this working in the Marsden

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been deleted

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say