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RCGP chair backs NHS publicity campaign

The RCGP has backed the BMA’s planned publicity drive to inform the public about the damage done to the NHS and how that impacts on GPs, Pulse can reveal.

Following a crisis meeting between the GPC and the RCGP last week, RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said that whilst the college has no political role, it shares the goal of getting the public and the Government to realise the importance of the profession.

The GPC has been urged by LMCs to work to change the perception of the profession in the eye of the public after a number of damning statements made by the Government in the media in recent months.

Pulse revealed in April that the BMA was preparing a public information campaign to help GPs inform patients about the dangers of the Government’s NHS reforms.

Professor Gerada said: ‘We are on the same page. There is no disagreement about what the issue is. We certainly are both committed to promoting the relevance of general practice and working to find a solution.’

She added: ‘We absolutely, totally and utterly, back the campaign.’

The GPC and RCGP have both publicly deplored health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s statements blaming the 2004 GP contract and the profession for rising pressures on A&E departments.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We updated RCGP about the campaign that we are about to launch shortly which will help practices inform patients directly about what is really happening in the NHS and how that impacts on GPs.

‘We are all too aware of the workload pressure practices are under and how angry GPs are about the constant unjustified attacks upon them. The campaign will be one way we are able to empower practices to engage directly with their patients.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator and a GP in London, added: ‘We believe that the Government has completely missed the point in terms of demands on the NHS. It is focused entirely on A&E attendances and has totally ignored the reality.

‘We feel, and I know that the college agrees with this, that it is inexplicable that the Government has complete ignored the rise in attendances in GP surgeries in their announcements in recent weeks.’

Last week, Londonwide LMCs became the first region to launch a practice-based PR campaign under the banner ‘General Practice Cares’.