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Keogh: GPs 'undervalued by the NHS at a time we need them the most'

GPs have been 'undervalued' by the NHS at the time when they are most needed, NHS England's national medical director has said.

In a lengthy statement in NHS England’s board meeting last week, Sir Bruce Keogh painted a picture of how GP funding and income has declined while responsibilities have increased and are continuing to pile on further.

At the same meeting, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens admitted primary care professionals have suffered financially as a 'direct effect' of secondary care providers running deficits.

Referencing the GP Forward View, Sir Bruce said that 'by focusing on general practice and primary care we bring benefits to our patients' and that this was 'the end game in all of this'.

'The reality is that the best way of looking after our patients in the community, is by looking after our GPs and our primary care. And that is true both for our current patients and for our future patients,' said Sir Bruce.

In his statement, he acknowledged a number of points which Pulse and GP leaders have highlighted for a long time, including GPs dealing with an increase in demand from both patients and policy makers while tackling rising levels of bureaucracy and staff shortages.

Sir Bruce said: 'As patients have been moved out of hospital to be treated in the community, we have seen a commensurate requirement for the professionalism of GPs who have increasingly become the general physicians, the consultant community physicians of the day. That is a very important change in my view.

'Yet at the same time, I think there is evidence that our GPs have been undervalued by the NHS at the time when we need them most and when we are asking for them to do more.'

Sir Bruce pointed out that there is 'an inequity' in that 'we have seen levels of investment down by 0.8% annually in general practice whilst it has risen in hospitals by 12.3%', adding that GP take home pay had also suffered.

He said: 'Their income has dropped very significantly in real terms since 2005/06. During a similar period the number of consultations, of increasingly complex patients, has gone up by 14% and there are a set of expectations which have accompanied that.'

Mr Stevens also acknowledged the inequity in how GPs have picked up the slack from elsewhere in the system.

He said: ‘We have been in a period when in effect individual organisations, individual hospitals were choosing their deficit and then expecting somebody else to pick up the tab, given that we live in a nationally budgeted system and Parliament sets the amount of money that the NHS gets to spend each year. And the consequence of that has been that somebody else, namely mental health services and primary care, have been suffering as a direct effect.


Readers' comments (26)

  • it's bit like a burglar raiding a house then posting a letter to the owners sympathizing about the high crime rates in their area.

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  • I just hope that GPs can see that a cut in funding of 50% in NI [ as an example] from 11% to 5.5 % for GPs with an increase workload is deliberate.
    I am an ass, a donkey that works more and more for less. Look what chairpeople of Inquiries make per year [ they only work a few weeks]. Look at legal aid.
    We are abunch of nitwits taking all the workload and the abuse that Mr Hunt's penance throws at us.
    But who should stand up but our chiefs ?
    Oh, they are away in the other camp getting gongs.

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  • Wake up guys, we know how Sirs are made - it's not always substance that counts. It's how much you pay for the election campaign. That is probably why the titles don' always go hand in hand with integrity and intelligence. If you can become a Sir by just doing hair of former PM's family members, I'd be damned if I respect any titled persona in future.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • really?!!!
    you don't say?!
    I am shocked by your insight..what a genius!....pity the overpowering evidence of this has been building for over a decade and obvious to a medical student..pity NHSE has failed to have such wonderful insight before multi billions have been wasted due to failure to invest in primary care and enormous quantities of GP skill have been thrown away retired or emigrated due to the astoundingly imbecilic mismanagement of the NHS for the past decade.
    in the name of GOD!
    apologies I suspect you mean well and have tried but you are part of a disastrous bureaucracy that has profoundly failed this nation.

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  • I am sorry but I feel you should have resigned for your part in the desperate debacle of the consultants and gps in hospital training's contract.
    that was not acceptable in my view.

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