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CAMHS won't see you now

GPC is in capable hands but faces a huge challenge

Dr Kailash Chand

Let me congratulate the GPC for electing a matured and experienced leader in Dr Richard Vautrey as the next chair of the GPC, replacing Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

His comment on being elected was: 'I know there is much to do to deal with the workload pressures, resolve the workforce crisis and improve the morale of GPs but I firmly believe that GPC, working with Local Medical Committees, can turn this situation around and will enable a brighter future for general practice.' All of us wish him success. Because if he fails, general practice will finish for good, and signs are not optimistic.

I met a local GP yesterday. I asked, how is he doing? His answer was: 'Being a GP is no longer a pleasure, it’s more of a strain.' No-one can withstand the pressures GPs are now under and there is no prospect of any let up. Each GP is handling 1,500 more consultations a year than in 2008 with substantially reduced resources. GPs and practice nurses can’t keep doing more for less and now that funding for general practice in England has slumped to just 8.5% of the NHS budget the service we provide is in crisis. To make things worse, the unprecedented decline in funding for healthcare in the community has brought general practice to its knees. The government is increasingly asking GP practices to provide more services, including many involving the transfer of hospital care into the community, without the resources required to successfully deliver them.

It is obvious from the GPs I meet regularly, that general practice is facing a workload disaster that is threatening its long-term future. More than a third of GPs are actively planning to end their career early and this could lead to a serious workforce crisis in general practice very soon. A growing and ageing population coupled with a surge in patients with multiple and chronic conditions is piling pressure on GPs but their share of the NHS budget has been slashed.

Since its creation, GPs have been the bedrock of the NHS and provide excellent care for patients. But we can no longer guarantee a future for general practice as our patients know it, rely on it - and love it. It is very clear that GPs are doing all they can and enjoy the trust and confidence of patients, but they are being seriously crippled by a toxic mix of increasing workloads and ever dwindling budgets, which is leaving patients waiting too long for an appointment and not receiving the time or attention they need and that GPs want to give them.

It is estimated that general practice will face a deficit of £2.7bn in 2021, which based on the typical costs of employing partner and salaried GPs would lead to a further shortfall of 7,500 GPs across England, on top of a present shortfall of over 8,000.

The profession has been brought to its knees both by a chronic slump in investment and the fact that there are now simply not enough family doctors to go around. General practice is at the heart of the NHS and if it is left to wither, as is the case now, it could sow the seeds of an unprecedented disintegration of the NHS at all levels.

If the present administration believes that it could starve general practice into submission and bring in private providers to take over, it will be mistaken too. By which time it will be too late for primary care to be rescued and care will be much the poorer (and more expensive) for it.

I agree with Pulse's Editor Nigel Praities that the GPC is in capable hands, but whether the new Chair will be able to repair the damage done to core values of general practice is the million dollar question I don’t think I can answer!



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Readers' comments (8)

  • Cobblers

    Sycophantic Pseudobabble.

    The GMC (and Dr Vautrey) have sat on their hands since 2004.

    We have, as the writer admits, a disaster on our hands.

    I see no evidence that the GPC will do anything that may rock the boat the the government.

    As Private Frazer would say "We're doomed, doomed I tell ye!"

    (Please note that more could be said but I would be deleted by the moderator)

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  • Vinci Ho

    It isn't over until it is over.
    Everybody has the choice of whether to carry on fighting this battle.
    Politics is ever changing, down to various unpredictable elements.
    Believe in what you have chosen and don't look back in anger.

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  • I think this is a completely realistic appraisal of the situation UK general practice is in. A very diplomatic ending about whether or not General Practice can be saved, I think it was a veiled 'we're up a creek' or 'not a chance in hell'. I think his observations about the current administration trying to starve general practice into submission are bang on the money. The first step of privatisation (Accepted by governments globally) is to chronically underfund a service to get the populous disgruntled with it..... to get them in the mood to accept something different.
    Now can we have the happy clappy perspective from the ' never been a better time to be a GP'/ crayon brigade to give a reasoned argument as to why Dr Nagpauls article is too negative or is he in fact right?
    I note Chaand hasn't got 5 stars yet, despite being a male and over 40, perhaps if he'd just used a black and white photograph?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Just watched Dunkirk in IMAX version last night.
    'Likewise' , immediately it sparks off a debate between the left and right wings :

    But to me , the film is :
    Brilliant in one word
    Brilliant , clever in two words
    Bloody brilliant , clever in three words.

    If you do not bother the absolute accuracy of the history , go to watch it.........

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  • Vinci Ho

    PS one criticism of the film is too action-packed but lacking sentimentality but Mark Kermode from BBC said Christopher Nolan actually believed the wisdom of the audience to draw more out of the film.
    Certain values and virtues are resilient to challenges from history and time , I believe and hence , our fight isn't over until it is over.......

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  • Vinci Ho

    And the film's slogan is resounding:
    'Survival Is Victory'

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  • Survival may be victory
    But sometimes to survive you choose to fight a different battle elsewhere or rest your weary head on a different bed

    Survival is the key word here and should never have become associated with the noble profession of general practice

    GP should never have to feel that this is a battle, a war but a war it is....

    We are not soldiers
    My heart reaches out to all out there... take care

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  • Vinci Ho

    Well respect people's choices , no matter what

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