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‘Set aside party politics’ to solve GP ‘crisis’, LMCs urge politicians

‘Set aside party politics’ to solve GP ‘crisis’, LMCs urge politicians

LMCs across the country have come together to urge politicians to ‘set aside party politics’ in a bid to resolve issues in general practice.

Organised by the Rebuild General Practice campaign group, a letter signed by 80% of the UK’s LMCs has been sent to the leaders of Britain’s main political parties.

It is asking them to ‘consider how important general practice is to the country’ ahead of the general election on 4 July.

The LMCs said that they are speaking with ‘one united voice’ to call for urgent action to address the crisis in general practice.

According to Rebuild General Practice, this is ‘indicative of a unique unity within the profession’ as it battles ‘the worst crisis it has ever faced’.

The letter said: ‘We write to you as one – in the hope that you can put aside party politics and in this crucial election year make solving the issues in general practice a core part of your campaigns. 

‘We are united by the Rebuild General Practice campaign to ask you – the political leaders of our nations – to fix a broken system across Great Britain.’

It added that without ‘concerted effort to rebuild our services’, the entire NHS ‘will crumble under the weight of unsustainable pressure’.

‘As the very bedrock of the health service, if general practice fails, the entire NHS fails – political decisions have led to this decline in general practice, and patients are paying the price,’ the letter added.

Oxfordshire GP Dr Rachel Ward said that as the backbone of the health service, if general practice ‘goes down’, the whole NHS comes with it.

She said: ‘We’re the experts who know our patients inside out – and without a solid push to rebuild our services, the entire NHS is at risk of collapsing under unsustainable pressure.’

Dr Nóra Murray-Cavanagh, a Wester Hailes GP, said: ‘Despite health being a devolved issue, across Great Britain we are all facing the same crisis. We are losing our highly skilled and experienced GPs as we don’t have enough funding to match the need in our communities.

‘There are a number of largely simple issues that we need Westminster, Holyrood, and Cardiff to pay attention to. This is possibly their final chance to understand the real problems and act on them, before we lose general practice and the NHS as we know it.’

Dr Rachel Warrington, a GP practising in Wales, said that GPs ‘physically’ cannot go on working under this ‘sheer amount of pressure’.

She added: ‘The bedrock of the NHS is shattering rapidly and unless we act now our whole system will come crumbling down, taking staff and patients with it. We might not have Welsh parliamentary elections this year, but the urgency with our devolved healthcare is just the same.’

The letter also called for the leaders to meet with Rebuild General Practice to discuss their proposal to fix the crisis.

It added: ‘We only have a few weeks before the public goes to the polls to vote in the general election. Before then, please consider how important general practice is to the whole of the country.

‘We would be delighted to meet you to discuss these proposals, and we look forward to your response.’

Earlier this week, the BMA said that next Government should take urgent action to address GP unemployment, in its general election manifesto.

And the BMA’s GP Committee has made it clear that regardless who gets into power, it will go ahead with its ballot of GP partners over collective action that would start in August.

What the campaign is calling for

  • A plan to retain the GP workforce: Deliver a fully funded and well delivered national general practice retention programme, which would incentivise GPs and trainees to remain in the profession. This should be part of a wider workforce plan to ensure we have the GPs we need into the future.
  • Fair funding as part of the wider NHS: Increase in the percentage of NHS funding in primary care with at least an 8.7% uplift (to match 2019/2020 funding). And match the share of funding allocated to general practice to reflect the increasing proportion of care it delivers.
  • Greater freedom and autonomy to do our jobs: GPs know how to care for their patients the best. This is why the practice of ringfencing funding should stop. GP partners should be able to allocate resources according to need. This means having control over hiring and retaining staff according to the needs of the practice and patients.

Source: Rebuild General Practice