BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey and health secretary Sajid Javid held an ‘emergency’ first meeting yesterday about the abuse currently being suffered by GPs.
In the meeting, the BMA called for ‘clear public backing for GPs’ acknowledging ‘the huge pressure they are under’, urgent investment in primary care to ‘remove unnecessary bureaucracy’ and a Government commitment to work with the BMA on ‘a national campaign to stop the abuse of NHS staff’.
It comes as a man has been charged with assault after attacking four staff members at a GP practice in Manchester on Friday, and the Prime Minister backed a Daily Mail campaign for ‘default’ face-to-face appointments.
Dr Vautrey said the meeting ‘allowed us to make it crystal clear how unacceptable the increasing abuse against hardworking and dedicated GPs and the general practice workforce is, fuelled by a damaging and demoralising misinformation campaign in some parts of the media, as well as comments from politicians’.
He said the BMA told the Government it has to ‘explain to the public that more patients than pre-pandemic have been able to access their GPs, whether that’s via the phone, online consultations or in person’, as a ‘priority’.
He added: ‘The secretary of state must confront the reality of unsustainable workload pressures, poor premises, the impact of the care backlog and secondary care work transfer to general practice and we urged him to trust practices to deliver services to patients without the rigidity, bureaucracy and burden of QOF or unnecessary CQC inspections.
‘We also called for far more action to enable practices to expand their workforce and for the Government to deliver on its commitment of 6,000 more GPs. Words are not enough, we now need urgent action.”
The BMA also told Mr Javid to support increased prison sentences for those who assault healthcare and emergency workers, following the Manchester attack.
It follows a letter sent on Tuesday by BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul to the health secretary, demanding an urgent meeting about support that could be offered to GPs to manage ‘the unprecedented rise in workload to meet the needs of all patients’.
The letter also condemned the Government for siding with media outlets who are ‘scapegoating’ GP practices over patient access.
NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani asked to meet with GP staff who were assaulted in Manchester last week, to ‘help prevent future attacks’.