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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.’

Read the full article here

Readers' comments (114)

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Well done Lucy Gaden for starting up a petition to the GMC to stop Prof Meirion from disrespecting GPs, women and overseas doctors. 340 have signed and growing! I have signed. Sign, voice your concerns and share! https://www.change.org/p/gmc-stop-prof-meirion-thomas-disrespecting-gps-female-and-overseas-doctors-in-the-media?recruiter=26356094&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1)The political mission started when CQC released the risk banding data. This had to be followed by some Agent H's subordinate(who obviously needs to know how to inflict trauma)to exploit these data ,twist the truth to condemn all GPs and threaten to wipe out all of us.
    (2) The message to us is 'stop moaning or face extinction , this is what you can get from government , take it or leave it.'
    (3) What do we call this , ladies and gentlemen ?
    (4) RULE BY FEAR. And one of the Four Freedoms identified by Franklin Roosevelt is exactly Freedom from fear, my comrades.
    (5) ''The Conservative Party has issued a voluntary code of conduct to all its MPs telling them not to "bully, abuse or harass" their employees.'' ''
    11/4/2014. BBC news

    I guess some habit is hard to rid as far as this party is concerned. Dr Sarah Wollaston, where are you these days?

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  • 23rd Nov: 8:26am. Dear Una.
    thanks for the link.
    I have signed the petition for all the reasons already shared here.
    For others please sign the petition if you think your daily hardwork, intelligence and committment to patients is being belittled and insulted. If we dont stand for ourselves who will?

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Dear Bharat, the credit all goes to Notts GP Dr Lucy Gaden who started up this incredible change petition to make GPs stand up for themselves against media bashing. I think Meirion's article was the last straw and GPs refuse to have their backs broken!

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  • A surgeon is entitled to his opinion that only the things that are done in secondary care matter, and 92% consultations are rubbish because they are done in Primary care . Only HE is important, the rest are useless. That is fine.
    But, he cannot tell straight forward untruths such as there is an increase in GP funding, when the opposite is true.
    He is using falsehood to make his case and as such his case fails, in any court of law and fairness.

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  • Anonymous | Salaried GP | 21 November 2014 10:36pm

    ' I would not want to use the GMC argument in order to gag those who don’t see what I see. '

    You're missing the point, aside from debating the accuracy of what he is saying, his comments are the exactly what should be gagged, like how if I published an article somewhere saying 'all surgeons are fckwits', the GMC should rightly come down on me like a ton of bricks, whether I was right or not. Its called 'bringing the profession into disrepute, disrespecting colleagues, and all the other good medical practice bits.'

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  • On thing he said is true, primary care needs revamping

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Um.... I cannot think what I wrote that would merit deleting.
    Be careful you don't become like TripAdvisor, Pulse.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Shall we all e-mail him? He will be on NHS net.

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