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At the heart of general practice since 1960

No wonder only 10% of GPs feel able to deliver a safe service

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A survey of more than 5,000 GPs published by the BMA this morning found that just 10% felt able to deliver a good quality and safe service.

GPs are at the end of their tether

Demand for primary care is spiralling out of control with more than 370 million consultations annually – a 60 million increase in five years. In real terms, this means GPs are struggling to see all the patients that are coming through their doors and don’t have enough staff to provide the services the public needs. There is a limit to what GPs can do when patient demand is going up and resources are going down. With an unhealthy ageing population that needs more complicated care and longer appointments this is only going to get worse.

GPs are at the end of their tether - having to manage the multiple complex physical and mental health needs of patients in a totally unrealistic ten-minute consultation is an insensitive insult to so many of our most ill patients.

We’re forced into providing conveyor belt care, up to 40 to 60 times a day, and on top of that dealing with phone calls, home visits, repeat prescriptions, results, reports and hospital correspondence. This is beyond human capacity, exhausting and unworkable and puts safety and quality at risk.

At one end we see ever increasing escalating workload, on the other we see that general practice’s share of the NHS budget has been dwindling since 2010 to under 8%, with a real terms reduction of £500m in three years, and now MPIG and PMS funding cuts threaten the viability of many GP surgeries nationally. Practices are being brought to their knees by this unprecedented fall in money for primary care and rising demand for GP services.

Does NHS England not realise that GPs are a bargain? Just over £76 per patient per year pays for unlimited appointments, home visits, telephone advice, and so forth - a fraction of the tariff cost of a single outpatient appointment of approximately £200.

A demoralised and squeezed workforce is struggling to meet the needs of increasing numbers of patients demanding immediate appointments. I urge the media and the Government to stop denigrating GPs as the problem, and start to see us as the solution. Our growing patient population needs general practice. Our overstretched secondary care sector needs general practice. To sustain the NHS we need GPs. If general practice fails, the whole NHS fails.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP and former deputy chair of BMA council. You can follow him on Twitter @kailashchandobe

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Destruction of general practice is by design and not accident. Unfortunately, many of us are collobraing to that end. The entire. Inception of CCGs was not to empower GPS,but to undermine . Now STPs will further reduce the role of general practice . College/BMA has no strategy to fight it.A lot of the NHS's woes can be traced back to destruction of GP services. 1,126 GP Practices have closed . Time is not far away when primary care services and GPS will be at the mercy of either local authorities or foundation trusts.
    Good bye GPs....

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  • Can Dr. Chand put this on the media and in news papers.

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  • We are Independent Contractors. Unfortunately we also tied into owning buildings and paying staff.
    So, much as a lot of us would like to pull out because the work loads are dangerous, unsafe, intense and depressing.
    The nation needs doctors and GPC had a mandate to ballot. Only to ballot. Yet Chaand and Vautrey decided not to. They are content with jam tomorrow, never mind the 1000+ practices needing life support.
    I think [ and a number of my colleagues ] think we are in this mess because the GPC is too close to the DOH.
    They make a lot of noise sure [ Both C + V ] are always complaining and demanding this and that, but never doing anything.
    It is time to at least look at another system, such as co-payments.

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  • what we need is the resignation of most of NHSE and this government..unfortunately they are so deludely incompetent ..all..i don't think they have the slightest awareness of the terrible damage they are doing
    maybe god will forgive them..i will not.

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