It is important that clinicians, NHS England and the Government work together to find solutions to the challenges facing the NHS. The call to action contains a number of positive starting points that the BMA will be happy to discuss further with NHS England.
As the call to action acknowledges, general practice is facing increasing pressure from rising patient demand linked to an ageing population and the expanding number of patients with complex, long term conditions. GPs are working harder than ever before to cope with this spiralling workload, including undertaking an estimated 340 million GP appointments each year, a figure that is rising annually. It is encouraging that despite these pressures almost nine out of ten patients rate their experience with their GP as good.
However, we also need to recognise that declining resources are placing many GP practices under severe strain. Recent imposed changes to the GP contract have cut average practice funding while instructing GPs to undertake more administrative box ticking that is diverting valuable time and resources away from treating patients. With the NHS facing years of budget constraint from the Treasury, the financial pressure on GP practices will increasingly have a negative impact on patient services.
Out-of-hours care is another area that has been faced with years of underfunding that will need to be addressed.
GPs, like all doctors, care deeply about the services they deliver to their patients and will continue to work hard to make improvements. In order to do this, we need to take a holistic approach that recognises all the pressures facing the NHS. We need to recognise that rising workload will require increased funding for general practice as well as a commitment from the government to empower GPs, patients and other healthcare professionals to use their experience to help shape services in the future.
Dr Richard Vautrey, is deputy chair of the GPC