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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Former GMC chair warns of general practice 'death by a thousand cuts'

Current general practice is ‘completely unsustainable’ regardless of the number of GPs recruited to the workforce, the former GMC chief executive has said.

Niall Dickson, head of the NHS Confederation since stepping down from his GMC post last year, said general practice had been ‘a great strength’ of the NHS but is now ‘imploding in places’.

Speaking to delegates at a King’s Fund conference yesterday, Mr Dickson described general practice as a 'complication' to the NHS, but said recent moves towards GP federations and more salaried GPs presented 'an opportunity' for planned reform.

Speaking about the rollout of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), he said: ‘The last thing we want is the end of general practice by a thousand cuts. We need to have a very clear strategy about how we support and move to something new. What we do know is that the current model is completely unsustainable.

‘It doesn’t matter, you can increase the numbers going in, they’re not going to be enough to meet the need.’

His comments come days after provisional figures from NHS Digital show that there has been an increase of 36 in FTE GP numbers, excluding locums in the first three months of 2017 but a decrease of 542 FTE GPs since NHS England released its GP Forward View in April last year.

Mr Dickson added that GPs are being used ‘improperly’ as the NHS is ‘a long way behind on’ forming integrated teams, with other health professionals needed to work alongside them in integrated teams.

Readers' comments (15)

  • Unsustainable to to under-funding over the last decade or so.Also you stint at the helm if the GMC drove a few nails into coffin o primary care Mr Dickson.Working at scale and with integrated teams wont work when the rest of the skill set is being decimated as well.You bare some of the responsibilty for this current mess.Shame on you.

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  • Why did you not say this before?

    Nobody gives a **** anymore.

    When our leaders could not care less about the future, why should we??

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  • Thank you sir for whatever you have done for us. God bless you. You are my inspiration. Shame on God for creating simple passive players like me. You are the one we need in every country. When are you publishing your book on drs. I mean the drs who committed suicide

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  • I honestly feel its immoral to publish or quote from people such as Dickson who have damaged so many directly and indirectly.

    Now he has left the GMC he is and will be irrelevant.

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  • STP , strangle then privatise. We are being herded into "federations " then when we're all in pens , sent to be slaughtered.

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  • Yes , lets deliver primary care the way the hyper efficient secondary care sector does --- that'll be 3 months for a routine appointment thank you !

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  • ZX81

    It's people like him who have very little real understanding who have caused the utter mess we are in. He was terrible as head of the GMC and here he is dicking around making things worse in another health related organisation. We're a 'complication' to the NHS????? (I await moderation... )

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  • Since landed in NHS, I was told to respect them and people like him locally. I just bend my neck and sometime knees. I have no guts to challenge them. I am teaching my kids the same. I always keep my testo levels to 7.6 . I am such a ............

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  • These guys get paid lots and show little in outcomes. Doctors killed themselves. Patients can't get to see the one helper they know locally and who knows them and their families. When I started in medicine in 1973 , Bristol was interesting for a young doctors doing locums for Gps in garages and front rooms. Practices were bitter rivals. Training gps was beginning and has not progressed as well ..With recent contracts. I have worked 7 days for most of my life and still do enjoy a shorter week.
    My case is to strengthen the foundations and train good gps...not this unsustainable nonsense. It is like saying you can't maintain your house.

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