GP representatives are coming together today for the first-ever England LMCs Conference, where they will vote on topics including struggling practices adopting new private models.
Other key motions up for debate include disengaging with the GP Forward View, re-tendering of the Capita support services contract and boycotting out-of-hours work unless indemnity is paid.
BMA’s GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey will open the conference warning that GPs are working under ‘dangerous’ workload pressures.
The motion on private services, to be proposed by Bedfordshire LMC, says that ‘given that a number of GPs genuinely feel that they can no longer operate within the NHS’ the conference should call on GPC England to ‘urgently look at how these GPs can be supported to operate within a private, alternative model’.
Dr Vautrey will tell the conference that although the GPC has made progress on many concerning issues – such as getting rid of the ‘worst’ bits of the QOF, negotiating a funding increase for practices, as well as full reimbursement of CQC fees – he knows that ‘it is nowhere near enough’.
He will highlight that more than a decade ago in 2006, general practice received a 9.6% share of the NHS budget (discounting the inclusion of dispensed drugs), add that ‘by 2013 it had fallen to a miserly 7.4%’.
He will say: ‘We should not be left trying desperately to deliver a complex and specialised service with so little. We are… highly trained generalists who are specialists in delivering holistic care that makes a difference to all aspects of our patients’ lives and we need the resources necessary to do that.
‘We are professionals delivering the most popular public service not just by coincidence, but because of our hard work and dedication, our willingness to innovate, our ability to respond rapidly to change and because we know our patients and we are willing to stand up and fight for their healthcare.’
And, as a recent Pulse burnout survey revealed that almost half of GPs say their ability to care for patients has been affected by the stress of general practice, Dr Vautrey will say work levels are now ‘dangerous’ to GPs as well as their staff.
He will say: ‘To meet the growing needs of our patients and to deal with the dangerous workload pressures facing GPs and our staff, we need recurrent funding to enable an expansion of the workforce.
‘To his credit, [health secretary Jeremy Hunt] remains committed to securing an additional 5,000 GPs, despite the massive challenges of achieving that goal.’
Coming as NHS chief executive Simon Stevens on Wednesday demanded politicians make good on Brexit promises of an extra £350m a week for the NHS, Dr Vautrey will also say that ‘overall budget for the NHS is simply too small’ and politicians ‘can and should be making the decision to invest more in the NHS as a whole’.
‘They can and should be prioritising not just general practice but our community services, our mental health services, our hospital services, our social care services, all of which are under huge and growing pressures.’