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GPs operating in an ‘unforgiving climate of blame’, says GPC leader in defiant speech

GPs are operating in an ‘unforgiving climate of blame’ through having to deal with pressure from litigation and the CQC while tackling ‘unsafe’ workloads, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say in a speech to the BMA’s annual conference.

Addressing doctors from across specialties at the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting in Belfast, Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say that ‘pressures on general practice have sunk to new depths’ since last year’s meeting.

He will promise that GPs will fight every day to resurrect their ‘proud profession’ and highlight the fact that at the LMCs Conference in May, GP leaders gave the Government three months to accept the recommendations in the GPC’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice or they would canvass the profession on its willingness to submit undated resignations.

Dr Nagpaul will lament the ‘explicit wholesale transfer of care out of hospital’ which ‘continues unabated’.

He will raise troubling statistics, including:

  • ’70m more patients seeing us annually compared to seven years ago and with fewer GPs per head which is drowning our capacity to cope.’
  • ‘A record 201 surgeries closed last year – the tip of a much larger iceberg of practices on a cliff edge.’ (This is actually from a Pulse investigation which showed there were 201 fewer surgeries, although many had merged, not closed)
  • ‘Unfilled GP vacancies are at their highest, with half of practices struggling to recruit locums to provide essential services.’

He will say that all of this combined ‘has led to a toxic mix from which existing GPs can’t wait to escape, and which many young doctors will not join’.

Dr Nagpaul will add: ‘Far from the being thanked for working against all odds, there’s an unforgiving climate of blame. Litigation against GPs has rocketed, no doubt contributed to by us not being able to work safely. CQC adds further insult by crudely judging practices rather than recognising our impossible context.

‘How callous to name and shame practices for not having the capacity to tick boxes when those struggling the most are rightly spending their time attending to patients rather than producing reams of policies to satisfy the clipboards of inspectors.’

And while general practice needs more funding, Dr Nagpaul does not want this to come out of the hospitals’ budget.

He will say: ‘The elephant in the room is of course money. As a supposed rich nation it’s shameful we spend less of GDP on health than most of the developed world, where we have a fraction of the hospital beds of France and Germany and lag behind most other OECD countries in our doctor and nurse numbers.

‘General practice desperately needs more resources, but not by robbing Peter to pay Paul, but from a larger NHS pot that provides the level of care that befits a civilised state.

‘This is everyone’s fight, from doctors to patients and the public as taxpayers, to challenge politicians who are irresponsibly trying to squeeze a quart into a pint, while savagely slashing NHS funds under self-proclaimed austerity.’