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GPs go forth

Can the Government fail to act on GP waiting times?

Editor’s blog

It wasn’t long ago that former Prime Minister Theresa May was telling a conference of nurses that there was ‘no magic money tree’ to pay for the NHS. Luckily, since then, the Government has planted a few seeds so we can pay for a no deal Brexit.

Hopefully, there will be enough trees to pay for general practice funding. And, it might be the silly season affecting my thinking, but it may be that this will be the case.

It seems everyone is waking up to the effect of the general practice crisis on patients. We reported this week that the average waiting time for routine appointments was more than two weeks for the first time ever. The story went everywhere.

It seems everyone is waking up to the effect of the general practice crisis on patients

There were front page news stories, stories from patients leading the news programmes, phone-ins across the radio, including an hour-long special on Radio 4’s You and Yours. GPs and patients were giving the same message – there simply aren’t enough GPs.

This has become a big issue beyond general practice, and I am glad Pulse can play a small part in delivering this message.

We know the best solution to the recruitment crisis – funding. It worked in 2004, and it will work again. The question is, can ministers ignore the weight of public opinion and resist similar injections of cash? I’m starting to think not – though that might be the pollen talking.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Yes- there will come a point when waiting times become career threatening to politicians. We haven't reached it yet. Although your story made a big media splash there has been little follow through and the whole news cycle will continue to be consumed by Brexit and the fall out from Brexit for the forseeable future.

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  • There’s a high likelihood one would find ursine droppings in forested areas, too.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    if it's big in the news for long enough they're likely do do something. they question really is what they do, it's sure to be designed with the primary purpose of what sounds good to the media, and conservative voters, wether it works or not isn't really what matters. given the total absence of anyone in power with a clue what's actually going on i fear it's almost certain to be nothing that won't actually probably make things worse. the guy in charge (handcock?) is a tech fanatic, it'll be more money for tech 'solutions' or big statements about recycled money and extra investment in 'your local hospital' - GPs won't actually figure in anything but empty claims whatever they're doing will magically make a difference. unless it's specifically about reducing unnecessary demand nothing will help. almos every 'solution' they come up with actually fuels demand and puts costs up. The more reasons people find to see their GP, the more work is generated, it's inevitable. the whole process is based on flawed ideas around private business - where the more customers you have the more money you make. the reverse is true in publicly funded heath care, the more people you see the more expensive everything gets. at a basic level demand reduction is the only thing that will work

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  • The whole financial ‘system’ is based on ‘creating’ debt through high street banks’ fractional reserve banking, QE by central banks and derivatives. This can only work if there is a continual increase in productivity to service the newly created debt. For most industry/business this has been achieved by ‘offshoring’ and automation of factories and services.

    The big difference between healthcare and just about all other services, whether private or public is that despite the Govt/DoH attempting to do the same as above healthcare is still extremely labour intensive. It will remain this way until AI and robots become more advanced. This is additionally compounded as people live longer and medical advancements continue. Finally Joe Public will have to willingly accept AI and robots.

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  • i'm waiting for them to bang out the old mantra again "we must make gp's more efficient"!!

    if you really want to see an example of an inefficient, outdated, archaic system, look at the houses of parliament !!

    i mean - the man at the top has no clout unless he is wearing a wig and a pair of tights !!

    you couldn't make it up !!!

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  • doctordog.

    Let me keep more of the money I earn and I will gladly increase my sessions.

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  • Long waiting times is the professions' fault. We have all gone part time, reducing flexibility with surges in demand, and now most GPs micro-specialise, creating multiple appointments when one would have done before. Over last 20 years we moved from treating patients with problems to screening and prevention which seemed a good idea but is not working out. We created a nation of the worried well and the approach caused harm with over-diagnosis which we then have to manage with more appointments. I had 2,700 on my list with 1.25 doctors yet patients never had to wait more than three days in 2007 and emergencies on the day.

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