What can we expect for general practice in 2019?
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It’s fair to say that 2018 didn’t bring much change to general practice, in England at least. True, the contractual uplift was an improvement on recent years, but hardly enough to bring an end to the crippling workload and recruitment crisis. It is no surprise that, in Pulse’s review of the year, the piece that resonated most with readers was on early retirement.
So can we expect any different this year? Anyone hoping for workload to reduce to a manageable amount may be kidding themselves. But, in the spirit of the new year, let’s look for some positives.
The NHS’s long-term plan has promised billions of pounds to primary and community care. Whether any of this will get to grassroots general practice is another matter, but it is something to work with, especially with a long-term contract currently being negotiated by the BMA and NHS England. And, in the latter, we have a director of primary care who seems to get general practice. Also, we might even get indemnity sorted.
At the same time, we are expecting a major piece of work from Public Health England on prescription drug addiction to tackle a growing source of concern for GPs.
And – in what might be a case of clutching at straws – the story this morning on DNAs suggests that the Government might actually be looking at patient demand.
Of course, none of this is going to revolutionise general practice. Without an increase in GP numbers, and an attempt to change patients’ expectations of general practice, we will continue to see an increase in demand at a time of dwindling numbers. This is why we are continuing to see early retirements and practice closures.
And I fear I will be writing this same blog next year.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org