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BMA writes to Mail about ‘attacks and smears’ against GPs

BMA writes to Mail about ‘attacks and smears’ against GPs

The BMA has written to the Daily Mail to express its ‘anger at attacks and smears’ against GPs, following the latest GP-bashing article published by the newspaper.

A Daily Mail article by columnist Sarah Vine this week asked why GPs are ‘still using Covid as an excuse not to see patients’.

The offending article, published by the Mail Online on Tuesday, was entitled ‘Being a doctor is supposed to be about helping sick people get better, not guilt-tripping them for taking up your time… So why are doctors STILL using Covid as an excuse not to see patients?’.

It likened obtaining a GP appointment to ‘seeking an audience with the Pope’ and claimed that ‘GPs seem to have unilaterally decided they don’t want to see patients anymore’.

It said: ‘Their excuse? Covid, of course. But why? Everywhere else has opened up. If the rest of us are expected to go back to work as normal, why can’t they?

‘To my mind, the answer is simple: it suits them not to have to see patients. Thanks to Covid — that great catch-all excuse for incompetence in public service — they’ve realised it’s easier to keep us at arm’s length, and hide behind “precautionary measures”.’

In response, the BMA warned that the article was divisive and counterproductive, saying it had sent a letter to the newspaper for publication. 

It said: ‘We have written to the Daily Mail to express our anger at attacks and smears like this article, which will only lead to more doctors leaving general practice, meaning patients will find it even harder to get an appointment or to be seen in a timely manner. 

‘As GPs, we are on the side of patients so attempts to divide us in such a way only distract from who is really to blame for our failing health services: the Government.’

The BMA added that the ‘frustration at struggling to get through to a GP surgery’ expressed in the article ‘will come as no surprise to the ever-dwindling number of GPs and their teams’, as well as resonating with many patients.

But it added that ‘the simple fact is there are not enough GPs or practice staff to provide the care that patients are asking for and need’.

It added: ‘In September, practices in England booked more than 28 million appointments; one for every other person in the country.

‘But this is on the back of having lost the equivalent of more than 1,800 full-time GPs since 2015. Anyone can see these numbers just don’t add up to a safe and sustainable system.’

Pulse approached the Mail for comment.

It comes as the Practice Managers’ Association (PMA) has said that the media rhetoric that it is ‘virtually impossible’ to see a GP needs to end, as it is adding to the continual abuse of practice staff.

Last month, it was revealed that ‘inaccurate and unfair’ negative media coverage of GPs in UK newspapers is contributing to workforce stress and the retention crisis.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 10 November, 2022 4:33 pm

I would have written to the Mail long ago if I could honestly say that there was no GP surgery in the country that was not as bad as they portrayed, because most of those I know, even during pandemic and when understaffed, have gone out of their way to provide services and enable encounter with clinical staff promptly for all appropriate callers.
Unfortunately, I have felt unable whilst there might still be a few surgeries that have not quite come up to the mark, since those few have made it impossible to call out the newspaper articles on truthfullness.
They may be an absolute minority, whilst the majority are miles better, despite the pressures they are under, but they have undermined our ability to deny infallibility.

Adam Crowther 11 November, 2022 6:54 am

This really hits home when you realise that your own relatives read the mail 🤦🏼‍♂️. There is really only one solution in that we will have to take the mantle in terms of a public health campaign (since public health has gone and it prob falls into the GP to kindly do box) we need a new QOF domain with codes “reader of mail publications” and “advised not to read mail publications” hopefully then I won’t have to see the folks slowly harming themselves sat at the kitchen table with the mail open, large slice of cake and cigarette in hand 😢

Julia Visick 11 November, 2022 8:59 am

Oh dear – the Daily Fail – so patients at other practices who are open fully but still cannot provide enough appointments to satisfy the impossible to satisfy demands of the public- will read this and continue to grumble….complaining can be a new religion. I have found continual moaning ( am lucky not to have had direct aggression) from patients a major factor in my decision to leave as a partner – why would you continue to put all those extra hours in at home when you get this in every newspaper and from Government too?

Truth Finder 11 November, 2022 9:08 am

Until charges are brought in, the problem will continue with unlimited demands on limited staff, time and resources. The system is broken. The NHS of the past is completely different to now. No compliants, NHSE, QoF. I hope the BMA stand up for us. Barristers got a 15% rise, doctors?

Kevlar Cardie 11 November, 2022 11:12 am

Sara Vine’s journalistic career has been on a syringe driver for quite some time now.

Dave Haddock 11 November, 2022 1:14 pm

Just checked with my registered Practice.
No appointments available.
Try again tomorrow.
Which is what they told me yesterday, and I’m guessing here, what they will tell me tomorrow.

Patrufini Duffy 11 November, 2022 2:09 pm

Today’s headline are merely tomorrow’s trash can. Regurgitating narcissists.

The Prime Minister 11 November, 2022 2:26 pm

These media outlets have a trivial amount of actual “news”.

The rest of the paper is government propaganda.

At least they should do the honourable thing and admit to attempting to “brainwash” the general public with government propaganda……

Cameron Wilson 11 November, 2022 6:00 pm

I just wonder if their comments and editorials on other matters are equally ill informed and shallow! See Dr Max couldn’t resist the old chestnut “the disasterous 2004 GP Contract ” today, Keeps them in a job I suppose! And yep, that goes for their comments on other matters…surprisingly quiet after their lauding of Truss premiership btw!!

The Prime Minister 12 November, 2022 7:49 pm

I cannot understand how some doctors who write plain nonsense in the media attacking their colleagues are not investigated by the GMC under clear existing guidelines about treating colleagues fairly.???The GMC seem to selectively investigate cases which have been demonstrated to have no legitimate basis yet ignore serious matters such as these..which then makes doctors question impartiality

Dave Haddock 14 November, 2022 4:56 pm

Update on my quest for a GP appointment, day 5.
I now have an appointment; but as there are no face to face appointments available, it’s for a telephone call. That definitely is not going to help much, but perhaps the doctor I speak to can arrange a real appointment.
And perhaps the BMA could admit that the NHS is rubbish and needs replacing with something that works.