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Politicians must 'jettison pipe dreams' of seven-day access, says GPC chair

The GPC chair will use his opening speech at the LMCs Conference today to denounce moves towards seven-day service, saying they are ‘political pipe dreams’ that will lead to the destruction of ‘comprehensive general practice service in parts of the UK’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say that the Government ‘will fail dismally’ in its manifesto pledge for 5,000 new GPs if it continues with weekend opening, because it will ‘lose 10,000 GPs retiring in the same period’.

He will also say that GPs face ‘a stark choice to sink or swim’, and must work closely with pharmacists and find ‘creative new ways of working and using technology’ to ease workload pressures.

His call follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s first speech since the election, where he set out his ambition for everyone in England to have access to seven-day GP practices by 2020.

But Dr Nagpaul will warn the new Government that it is walking into a GP workforce ‘catastrophic timebomb ready to explode’.

Dr Nagpaul will say: ‘Being a GP has an unsustainable, punishing pace and intensity… The irrefutable fact is that patient demand has absolutely outstripped the capacity of GP services, and we simply don’t have the GPs, appointments, staff or space to meet these escalating demands.

‘Now the election is out of the way, I call upon the Prime Minister to jettison the political pipe dreams of tomorrow and get real about how we resource, resuscitate and rebuild general practice today.’

He will quote recent statistics revealing that one in three GPs intend to retire in the next five years, from a BMA survey of over 15,000 GPs earlier this year, as well as the latest wave of GP training scheme application being ‘even poorer than last year’, as was revealed by Pulse last month.

Dr Nagpaul will also announce plans around GPs seeking greater support from other professionals.

‘We must work with other health professional such as pharmacists who can support GPs in their daily work. We must equally be creative about new ways of working and using technology to ease pressures. The GPC will be rolling out guidance on such measures in the coming months,’ Dr Nagpaul will say.

And just like Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign, Dr Nagpaul will also call for immediate financial support for practices at risk.

He will say: ‘We also need a national programme of proactive support from government with dedicated resources for GPs and practices struggling under pressure right now -  not after the event when practices are about to collapse.’

At the conference, local leaders are set to vote on whether they can declare ‘major incidents’ and ‘capacity shutdowns’, similar to A&E departments.

LMCs from across the UK will also vote on whether to move to a salaried only service, and whether the QOF should be scrapped.

The morning session will also see a motion on whether there should be a ‘staff grade’ of GP, who could practise independently without having passed the MRCGP exam.

Read the agenda in full here

Related images

  • Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Readers' comments (17)

  • Re 0047am. Dear Anonymous,

    That has to be one of the most incomprehensible comments I have seen on this forum - and there have been a few silly ones over the years. What on earth are you on about?

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  • And what if Mr Cameron and Hunt do not listen to you Dr Nagpaul? What will you do then? You are the official who should be balloting us on options.

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  • Words are not sufficient - as mentioned above ballot GPs - that we we have another option to add to sink or swim

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  • Surely the real answer is that both are correct in parts. Offering a 8-8 day service dealing with everything we do now is daft as it will lead to some GPs sitting around on a Sunday afternoon with little to do and others drowning under the usual flood of patients during the week but with less support. What is needed is an emergency on the day GP service over the week end offering a more visible presence than that offered by the OOH services. It may well be that these services are staffed by the doctors who at present work for OOH but is a more locally sympathetic way. Our old Co-op system offered such a service and it worked well - the dismantling of General Practice and the massive over regulation will however make this difficult to get back.

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  • Nice coverage of the above on radio 4. Glad to hear the message is spreading. I laughed when NHSE were quoted as regarding Dr Nagpaul's comments as 'overly negative.' FFS NHSE. Is that the best you coulf come up with? I've no time for this positive/negative newspeak nonsense.

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  • Seven day opening is not an impossible dream . Just a very very expensive one. The govt has champagne taste on lemonade money .

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  • The problem in General Practice is that successive goverments have encouraged patients to go to their doctor who will deliver immidate satisfaction. They now expect it so pitch up with symptoms less than an hour old. Hence I have taken euarly retirement and enjoy relaxed locum session.s

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  • 21 May 2015 9:57am

    .............Relaxed locum session

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  • 8.35am - You might want to check your facts on which organisation said that before you vent your spleen.

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  • much apols. it was the DoH! (tell me what IS the difference again?)

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