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At the heart of general practice since 1960

My message to Theresa May

Dr Kailash Chand

theresa may 3x2 SUO alamy

theresa may 3x2 SUO alamy

The new prime minister Theresa May has said she will 'cherish' the NHS. She is daughter of a vicar, but, believe me, she is not the ‘Mother Teresa’ of our NHS. By confirming that Jeremy Hunt is staying as health secretary, Ms May has signalled that she endorses the imposition of an unfair, unsafe, junior doctors' contract, an unaffordable  seven-day NHS, rock bottom NHS family morale, decline in general practice and an ideologically driven, illiterate privatisation of an unsafe, underfunded NHS.

I call upon Theresa May to provide immediate clarity on the fiscal health of the NHS over the coming year

Mr Hunt, £22bn of 'efficiency savings' and Brexit mean that there are very grim times ahead for the NHS. Ms May is a staunch supporter of removing NHS restrictions on treating private patients. She also introduced a £200 annual ‘immigrant health surcharge’ last year for those in possession of work visas. Ms May is also the architect of the minimum salary for immigrants who have already lived in the UK for less than 10 years (the threshold being at least £35,000), if they simply want to continue to stay. The points-based immigration system that she advocates would also mean that the low-skilled migrant workers who form the backbone of the care sector would be denied entry to Britain.This could hugely impact on the NHS recruitment of nurses and para-medical staff.

If she means what she says, that she loves the NHS, Ms May needs to urgently pay attention to her party’s plans for dismantling the NHS, the junior doctors' dispute, the crisis in general practice and the funding of the NHS. In the 35 years I’ve worked in the NHS, I’ve seen 20 reorganisations. They demoralise NHS staff because they are always expected to deliver more for less.

Mr Hunt’s tactics throughout his tenure as health secretary have been aggressive, self-defeatingly crude and mostly alienating the NHS family. Junior doctors are battered and bruised. They remain concerned about their contracts. We have to meet their aspirations. Otherwise, there will soon be no home grown doctors left to run the NHS. GPs are even more demoralised than junior doctors because of workload and demand. At present, an undermined general practice system is struggling to hold on to core skills, attitudes, values, and behaviours in the face of a series of politically-motivated governmental initiatives which have damaged its effectiveness. Ms May can either face up to the realities facing GP practices and make plans now to meet growing challenges, or we can bury our heads in the sand and watch this key part of the NHS slide into permanent decline. If GPs fall, the NHS will fall.

The British public deserves nothing less than a well-financed and functional NHS with happy and productive staff. I call upon Theresa May to provide immediate clarity on the fiscal health of the NHS over the coming year. I urge her to instruct Mr Hunt to resolve the dispute with junior doctors and take necessary steps to ease workload crisis in the general practice.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is the deputy chair of the BMA, and a retired GP

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Readers' comments (18)

  • Brilliant blog,but will she listen or care. The destruction of the NHS in general and general practice in particular goes on....who so ever is in power!

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  • No one's listening and no one cares.

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  • Same old socialist song from Kailash - Government should tax and spend more, and more, and more.

    When will you understand that there is no more money?

    The BMA is betraying GPs by fixating on a political imperative - to have fully tax funded free-at-point-of-abuse healthcare, instead of looking after doctors and working out how to have co-payments, go private like dentists etc.

    The BMA is driving straight at the cliff and refusing to accept that any other course exists.

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  • Anonymous 9.14
    You are entitled your views about bringing charges to healthcare and blaming BMA or likes of Kailash or Chaand.But your proposed solution will turn the health, a two tier system for patients,the one who can afford and the others who can't. Further, the profession will have winners and losers ......
    We need staying united to fight the assault on the General practice from politicians of all colours!

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  • As QE continues to fail, expect them to print money for the NHS, rather than borrow more.

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  • In support of @9.14, I would agree that if the result of introducing charges creates a first and a second class system, that has to be better than 3rd class for everyone.

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  • "Anonymous | GP Partner19 Jul 2016 10:22am
    But your proposed solution will turn the health, a two tier system for patients,the one who can afford and the others who can't. "

    So you think that the socialists' paradise, Sweden, which charges people to see the GP has a 2-tier system in which people can't afford to see the GP?
    What about all the civilised countries like Canada, Aus, NZ, Norway France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland etc etc etc which all charge to see the GP? Do you hear a single one of them complaining that poor people can't see the doctor?
    No, you can't.

    this is always the false argument trotted out by the lefties, that co-paytments mean poor people can't afford to see the doctor. It's nonsense, every other civilised country does it and not one of them wants to emulate the rotten NHS. In fact a few years ago the French health minister described the NHS as "medieval"

    The "free" NHS is nothing more than a rotten cult religion in Britain, brainwashing its sad victims into believing that it will be the end of the world if they have to pay to see the GP.

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  • The Kings Fund, which is not a leftie organisation, has already recently carried out an inquiry, the Barker Review, which rejected user charges and called instead for more taxes to pay for healthcare(the most fair system to fund health care), in particular through a review of inheritance tax and national insurance increases. Take markets out of health care like NZ did and save Billions.

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  • The Kings Fund people are still adherents of the cult religion, and did not explain why ever other civilised country charges to see the GP and prefers it to our system. The NHS is not the envy of the world, it is rejected by every other country.

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  • Let's agree to disagree !

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