The current state of general practice is unsafe for patients, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told delegates at the Special LMC Conference in a passionate speech today.
In the keynote speech at the specially convened conference, Dr Nagpaul railed against the ‘nit-picking’ CQC, ‘platitudes’ from Government, and schemes to support struggling practices.
He said general practice is ‘literally in a state of emergency’, and called for an end to the ‘pretence that all is well on the road to recovery’.
In a fiery speech today, Dr Nagpaul said the GPC has offered alternatives to the proposals on the table by NHS England and the Government, including teams of ‘GPs, nurses and managers able to be parachuted to any practice at short notice’.
The GPC chair said that the ‘mere fact that an extraordinary conference has been convened… speaks volumes about the state and crisis facing general practice today’.
He said the current state of general practice – including 10-minute appointments, 70 patient contacts a day, GPs managing ‘complications beyond their confidence’ and the number of unfilled vacancies was ‘not safe’ for patients.
Dr Nagpaul added: ‘To put it simply, it is not safe to carry on the way we are, and which is why this conference is highlighting that general practice is quite literally in a state of emergency.
He also focused on the issue of practice closures, referencing Pulse’s investigation that revealed 200,000 patients had been forced to find new practices or travel to different premises due to closures.
‘I’m ashamed there’s been a rocketing of GP practice closures in the last year, displacing over 200,000 patients forced to re-register.
’The Government therefore cannot afford for a single practice to close unnecessarily since this costs hugely more in hospital costs and the expense of picking up the pieces.’
Dr Nagpaul said it was a ‘scandal’ that area teams would not bail out practices that have to close, ‘but can in the same breath spend over a million pounds on challenge fund schemes to pay GPs to sit in empty surgeries on Sundays. This is plainly morally wrong.’
The speech finished with an attack on efforts to recruit and retain GPs.
He said that the Government’s own worklife survey reveals ‘a loss of over 10,000 GPs that will wipe out any increase in recruitment’.
Dr Nagpaul added: ‘You aren’t going to improve retention nor recruitment by just talking up the job with promotional videos, flying in the face of the reality of an overstretched exhausted workforce.’