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GP leaders react as Theresa May announces minority Government plan

The NHS looks set to remain under the stewardship of the Tories, after Prime Minister Theresa May today declared her intentions to hang onto power despite failing to win the election.

Speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street, Ms May made no mention of the fact she failed to reach a majority but said the Conservative Party was the only option with the ‘legitimacy and ability’ to govern at this time.

She added that the party would ‘continue to work with’ Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) – which saw 10 MPs elected and whose support she will require to bring decisions through Parliament.

Ms May, who was able to secure just 318 out of 326 seats required to win the election, said she would ‘form a Government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country’.

She said: ‘What the country needs more than ever is certainty and having secured the largest number of votes, and the greatest number of seats in the general election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party, has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.

‘As we do, we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular. Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years, and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.’

She added that ‘over the next five years’ her Governent would ‘put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do’, and ‘build a country in which no one and no community is left behind’, whilst ‘channelling energies’ towards ‘a successful Brexit deal’.

As doctor leaders began to react to the result, RCGP said it was ‘awaiting further details’ and would be ‘issuing a statement in due course’.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter called for ‘a Government that will agree a long-term, credible plan to deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.

Dr Porter said the election campaign had shown that ‘people care deeply about the future of health and social care in this country’ and said the next Government would have to make it its priority.

He added: ‘Yet Conservative funding plans for the NHS fall far short of what is needed. The question for this Government is whether it will preside over a further decline in the NHS, or if it has the courage and the political will to provide the funding and staffing needed to ensure its survival.

‘The Government must ensure that NHS funding keeps pace with other European nations, that EU doctors in the UK are protected from the impact of Brexit, that general practice is properly supported, that policies which protect and enhance the public’s health are implemented and that the pressures which affect the day-to-day delivery of high quality patient care are tackled.’

Northern Irish GPC chair Dr Tom Black said that although the DUP’s strengthened role in Westminster could theoretically lead to benefits for devolved nations funding.

He told Pulse: ‘The impact for GP practices is still up in the air at the minute. Obviously the DUP linking with the Conservative Party does give them a bargaining position with respect to the overall Barnett Formula and the budget for Northern Ireland. The DUP’s interests are twofold, and while they’ll support the Conservatives in Brexit, they will also be looking out for their interests in Northern Ireland.

But he added that he was concerned about the timing as NI politicians are in the midst of their own political crisis, with DUP and Sinn Fein having failed to agree on the make-up of a new Assembly since their coalition agreement fell apart in January, thus delaying a GP Forward View-style rescue package for general practice agreed before Christmas.

Dr Black said: ‘The timing is terrible. We’ve had no effective minister or budget for the last six months and there are a lot of decisions pending and we really need action, and soon. The last thing we need is prevarication.’

But Hull GP, GPC member and Pulse blogger Dr Zoe Norris welcomed the election result.

She said: ‘I think it’s good news, because there is no overall majority even if the Conservatives remain in government then they are in an unstable position.

‘That gives us some leverage as a profession, and gives us an opportunity as a profession to lay out what we want.

‘For example we can lay out how we want the GP Forward View to be working, rather than what’s currently happening, and take the initiative on that, the onus is now on us to do that rather than accept the status quo. Which is what’s been happening so far.’

Tower Hamlets LMC chair Dr Jackie Applebee said: ‘Theresa May clearly doesn’t have a mandate anymore. I think she should probably resign and there should probably be another general election.

‘There was lots doom and gloom about [Jeremy] Corbyn not being electable. He clearly is. I think for the health service, for a fairer society, I think big strides were made yesterday with the big vote for Corbyn and another general election in a few months time would make them even bigger I would hope.’

Pulse has approached the DUP for a statement.