More than half of GPs would consider leaving the NHS if the Government does not provide them with the support they need, a BMA survey has found.
In the week before the announcement of NHS England’s plan to improve access, the BMA surveyed more than 6,000 GPs in England on what they were ‘prepared to do’ if there was no ‘satisfactory response’ from the Government to deal with the current abuse and workload crises.
The BMA today revealed that more than half (54%) of respondents said they would think about ‘leaving the NHS altogether’ if the Government did not provide adequate support. Meanwhile, two-thirds (66%) said they were prepared to reduce their hours to ‘protect themselves from the current crisis’.
In a separate BMA ‘snap poll’ conducted after the support package was released, 93% of almost 3,500 GP respondents in England said the package is an ‘unacceptable response’ to the crisis.
The BMA said this ‘is the clearest articulation yet that frontline GPs working across the country do not believe the plan will go any way to addressing the pressures facing general practice, staff and patients.’
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘This shows the profession has out and out rejected this shambles of a plan from the Government and NHS England. If the health secretary thinks it is enough to provide a lifeline to surgeries this winter, let alone save general practice in the long term, this response shows how wrong he is.
‘The BMA provided the health secretary with a clear plan to help address the crisis in the short term, that could improve patient access and guarantee safe, high-quality care, while also putting forward longer-term solutions. He chose to ignore that and instead we have a shambolic plan that has failed before it has begun. These survey results show how angry and despondent GPs are. The profession clearly sees the Government’s name and shame approach as a bully’s charter, which will intensify existing problems.’
He added: ‘We have already lost the equivalent of more than 1,800 full-time, fully qualified GPs in the last six years and with a majority of family doctors now saying they could be forced to reduce their hours or leave the NHS altogether because of a lack of support, the situation could get far, far worse. This will be on the Health Secretary’s watch. He will be to blame.’
It comes as the BMA’s GP Committee has convened an emergency meeting to take place ‘in the next few days’ to discuss what action to take in response to NHS England’s GP access plan.
The GP ‘support’ package and its measures to improve access were met with fierce criticism from GPs and their leaders.