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Politicians must end ‘callous disregard’ for GP plight, says GPC chair

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Parliamentary candidates must get behind general practice and promise to fund it properly following the general election next month, GP leaders will warn today.

Opening the annual LMCs Conference in Edinburgh, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say politicians are currently showing a ‘callous disregard for the plight of the NHS’.

Further, according to Dr Nagpaul, the £2.4bn General Practice Forward View rescue package, announced by the Government more than a year ago, is ‘not an adequate funding package within a bankrupt NHS’.

Dr Nagpaul will say: ‘There’s sadly no fat in other parts of the system to transfer to general practice, with a financial crisis spanning community, hospital and social care, all of which adds more work onto general practice.

‘The real solution is a political one – in which politicians must end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens in an NHS that shamefully trails Europe in its funding, numbers of doctors and infrastructure.

‘The only solution is for government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, in which general practice receives a fair and larger share. That’s what voters need to demand from the coming general election, and why investment in general practice is one of the five key asks in the BMA election manifesto.

Dr Nagpaul also blames Brexit for diverting attention away from health and socical care pressures.

He will say: ‘Since we last met a year ago, the NHS has been paralysed by the vote for the UK to leave the European Union.

‘Far from the pledged investment of an extra £350 million per week, audaciously plastered on double-decker buses, the reality is we’ve been cheated with the opposite: a deep freeze in NHS spend, continued savage austerity cuts and with politicians turning a blind eye to the spiralling pressures affecting the entire health and social care system, in which even the 18-week target, laid down in the NHS constitution, is being allowed to be breached.’

He will say this comes as ‘individual practices have become frighteningly vulnerable’, with a recent BMA survey revealing that one in 10 is not sustainable.

‘Even a seemingly secure practice is just one partner away from retiring to set off a domino effect which could lead to collapse,’ Dr Nagpaul will say.

But he will conclude that GPs ‘can’ and ‘must’ get through ‘these troubled times’, adding: ‘We must therefore resurrect our Darwinian survival instinct, and stake our claim with our patients and the public to demand that the general election delivers a government that will fund the NHS properly… to bring spending on our health service in line with other European countries, plugging the enormous funding gap – and give general practice the resources to do justice to our profession, our discipline and the patients we care for.’

What are political parties promising on the NHS?

Green Party: Pledging an 80% increase in funding for general practice. Full manifesto expected next week.

Conservative Party: Pledged no extra funding beyond the extra £8bn already promised to deliver the NHS Five Year Forward View. Full manifesto pending. Expected to continue focus on patients gaining access to GP appointments 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

Labour Party: £37bn extra additional NHS funding in the next Parliament, funded by tax rises on those on highest incomes. Draft manifesto, leaked last week, pledged funding boost to general practice and this was confirmed in the final version published this week. The party has also pledged to scrap the 1% cap on NHS staff pay rises.

Liberal Democrats: £6bn extra a year to the NHS, funded by a 1% increase to all income tax, to be geared towards high-impact areas including general practice. Wants to abandon the Government’s seven-day GP agenda.