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Primary care ‘greatest cause of concern’, warn NHS leaders


long covid


Primary care is the ‘greatest area of concern’ in the health and care system, NHS leaders have warned, as the hospital waiting list has hit a record high.

It also comes as official data has today revealed that ambulance response times have risen to triple the 18-minute target.

The NHS Confederation today announced that almost half (48%) of NHS leaders say primary care is the area of ‘greatest concern’ for them.

It surveyed 451 NHS leaders this week, including 220 leading members of PCNs and GP federations, on the NHS’s priorities in the coming winter.

The second greatest area of concern was urgent and emergency care, which 22% of respondents ranked top. 

One primary care leader who responded to the survey said the NHS collectively is under a pressure ‘never before witnessed by this generation of clinicians’. 

They said: ‘The gatekeepers of this demand are general practice and unless this primary care crisis is addressed, the rest of the system will be destined to fail.’

The poll also found nearly nine in 10 (88%) NHS leaders feel the demands on their organisation are unsustainable.

And almost the same number (87%) said a lack of staff in the NHS as a whole is putting patient safety and care at risk.

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘NHS leaders are clear that we have reached a tipping point. Front line providers across all parts of the NHS are under intolerable pressure and we know this is going to get worse over the winter unless we take action now.’

A report on the findings, published today, added: ‘[I]t is clear that something needs to be done differently. Even the additional funding announced recently has come too late to provide much needed extra capacity to avoid health services becoming unsafe.

‘Being able to free up capacity to tackle the huge backlog of care for people whose care was cancelled during the pandemic feels like a distant ambition.’

It comes as the latest figures from NHS England, published today, show the hospital waiting list is continuing to grow, with a record 5.8 million patients waiting to begin treatment at the end of September 2021.

The number of people waiting more than a year for treatment has also doubled in 12 months, rising from 139,545 in September 2020 to 300,566 in September 2021.

And latest NHS England ambulance response times data, also published today, show response times for category 2 calls are now triple the national standard target time of 18 minutes.

In October 2021, the average ambulance response time in England for a category 2 call was 53 minutes 54 seconds. 

This is an increase of over 8 minutes since September, when the response time was 45 minutes 30 seconds.

According to a statistical note on the data, October response times for all four categories were ‘the longest since the categories were introduced in 2017’.

Pulse revealed today that an ambulance service sent a taxi to a GP practice in Bristol to collect a patient with a broken hip, after staff waited nine hours for an ambulance.

Earlier this month, a GP at another Bristol practice waited five hours for an ambulance before taking a child patient to hospital herself, and a GP practice in Norfolk is looking to double the amount of oxygen it stores on-site due to ambulance delays.

It follows health secretary Sajid Javid saying last week that a lack of GP appointments is to blame for increased pressure on A&E departments.

Meanwhile, the health secretary last month said the pressure on the NHS – including GPs – is ‘not unsustainable’.

READERS' COMMENTS [10]

Doc Getmeout 11 November, 2021 1:28 pm

“The poll also found nearly nine in 10 (88%) NHS leaders feel the demands on their organisation are unsustainable”

This should read nine out of ten GPs and their leaders feel the demands on their organisation are unsustainable.

Face the facts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Simon Gilbert 11 November, 2021 2:10 pm

I agree primary care is a great concern, however much of what makes it a concern is other failing organisations who dump work onto primary care.
This is partly due to their own pressures but some of it is avoidable – a renal nurse recently asked me to take on the task of writing all her blood forms in advance of each renal appointment to ‘save on postage’.
My initial quality alert was rejected as it apparently caused more offense than asking for me to set up a bespoke blood testing, blood reviewing and recall service for a patient under their care for the cost of a postage stamp!

Reply moderated
Turn out The Lights 11 November, 2021 3:58 pm

Roll on system failure, warning have been out there for the last decade or so.Fell on deaf ears.There will be no one for our secondary care brethren to dump on in the relitively near future.You do wonder what will be their for us when we need it.A nice bottle of wine and a big bottle of pill comes to mind,either that or waiting for non existent ambulances to take us to a choatic and squalid death centre,oops hospital.

terry sullivan 11 November, 2021 3:59 pm

what does nhs confed do?

Turn out The Lights 11 November, 2021 4:32 pm

Reminds me of the dead parrot sketch by Monty Python.Primary care being the parrot of course.

Douglas Callow 11 November, 2021 4:32 pm

access and support winter plan no staff and if u do the work as extra and have the audacity to earn > 150K named and shamed Enough of rearranging the deckchairs

Cameron Wilson 11 November, 2021 6:23 pm

Your only hope Javid is to eat humble pie and call off your jackals and prostrate yourself in front of us and beg forgiveness! Being a politician and totally ignorant of what you face this won’t happen but here’s your only hope:
Get rid of GMC revalidation nonsense and allow retired GP’s to man the fort.
Be honest with the public and ensure Crown liability.
Have a word with Rishi to ensure extra work is not penalised.
Instruct NHSE to cease their PCN nonsense and allow practitioners to get back to the front.
Do that and you might have a chance but after years of neglect by your predecessors, including Jeremy, even radical intervention isn’t guaranteed, sure it will cost a lot,including the humble pie from your media lackeys however you seem to find plenty when you want! One thing is certain you need us more than we need you!

Decorum Est 11 November, 2021 11:30 pm

@ Cameron Wilson
‘humble pie from your media lackeys’
They are politicians and live with a different reality (some ‘truely realistic folk’ might comment that politicians are self-deluded in their own political etc interest).
Nothing is going to relieve us from the Charlie Massie’s, Jeremy Hunt’s etc of this world and others of the amoral political class.
((having said that, and I never thought I would agree with him more (burnt out cynic that I am), Alistair Campbell on Question Time tonight, was spot-on)).

C Ovid 12 November, 2021 2:28 pm

Is it just me, or are we getting to the point where most of us just don’t really care anymore about how the NHS talks about itself at this nebulous, strategic level.
It’s about actions, not words.
Possibly too late already to save the NHS: is it now about who got their prediction in first so the sh*t doesn’t stick to them.

We’ll be there in the surgery, plodding along while Rome burns.

John Evans 17 November, 2021 7:17 pm

The irony / tragedy for many Doctors will be 30+ years flogging themselves for the NHS being rinsed each April for increased taxes / pension contributions and assoc tax charges. ( All from an income pegged back for 10-20years). Then at retirement needing to take out private insurance because the NHS is Cheyne-Stoking.