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GPs hit back at ‘incendiary’ attack on general practice by surgeon in the Daily Mail

GP leaders have hit back at claims put forward by an oncological surgeon in the Daily Mail that general practice was unfit for purpose.

In yesterday’s Daily Mail, Professor J. Meirion Thomas – who has previously singled out female doctors as the cause of the NHS’s workforce woes – said general practice was ‘hopelessly outmoded’ and called for GPs to be taken over by hospitals, with ‘specialist nurses’ handling the majority of care.

He seized on ‘risk ratings’ – which are used by the CQC for prioritising inspections and were released to the public on Monday – as evidence that one in six practices ‘could be putting patients at risk through their inadequacies’, despite the CQC stating the rankings do not amount to a ‘judgement’ of practices.

Writing in Pulse today, Dr Saira Ghafur and Dr Roisin Finn – clinical fellows to NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh – and Dr Nikita Kanani, vice-chair of Bexley CCG, counter Professor Thomas’s claims.

Professor Thomas states: ‘As the inadequacies of general practice become ever-more apparent, the only answer from the politicians seems to be to pour more money into the system and create yet more GP posts.’

But the response from the GPs explains that, far from this being the case, between 2008/09 and 2011/12 ‘the total number of consultations in general practice is estimated to have risen from 300.4m to 340m’,  while their proportion of the NHS budget has ‘dropped from 10.95% in 2005/06 to 8.5% in 2011/12’.

Similarly, they highlight that Professor Thomas’s claims that GPs ‘simply do not keep up with the latest developments in healthcare’ completely ignores the requirements to demonstrate this in appraisal and revalidation.

Far from general practice being unwilling to reform, it is actually leading it, they say: ‘Changes are being made both at ground level and policy level to address these issues. However, unreasonably criticising his colleagues who provide the majority of care delivery is incendiary and unnecessary.

‘As a surgeon who works in tertiary care and also in the private sector, perhaps Professor Thomas would like to visit a busy general practice to understand the increasingly complex nature of a GP’s workload and the challenges involved in delivering high-quality care on an increasingly constrained budget.’

Read the full article here