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BMA polysystems rally signals start of protests against ‘biggest NHS cutbacks in 20 years’

By Ian Quinn

GP leaders joined nearly 200 key NHS workers at BMA headquarters last night to rally against a massive shift of hospital workload to primary care polysystems, in a move which could herald large-scale public protests against NHS cuts.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair, took to the stage alongside leading hospital consultants and Keep Our NHS Public campaigners, as an alliance of frontline health staff pledged to fight the proposals tooth and nail.

They agreed to work together to organise a public campaign, including marches and a further rally of thousands of patients, to try to stop plans by NHS London to shift care from hospitals to primary care polysystems - plans which Pulse this week revealed are being mirrored in trusts across the country.

Dr Buckman accused NHS managers of having an ‘obsession' about polyclinics, warning that GPs had not been given the resources to do the job.

‘Primary care cannot do what hospitals do,' he told the rally. ‘The workforce isn't there. The doctors and nurses don't exist.'

He warned that plans to shift care to a series of polyclinics - both in the capital and beyond - risked patients dying because of the lack of resources to treat them

‘These cuts will turn a crisis in healthcare into a disaster for some,' he added.

Health expert John Lister, who wrote a recent BMA report exposing many of the proposed cutbacks in London, including plans to shift 60% of A&E appointments and 55% of outpatient appointments into the community, as well as plans to slash GP consultations by a third, was among the other speakers as emotions ran high.

He predicted the cuts and scale of public opposition could prove to be the biggest since the early 1980s, warning that NHS London's plans would see 'hundreds of people queuing for treatment from their GP at polyclinics'.

'SHAs right across the country are making similar plans,' he added.

200 GPs and other healthcare workers attended the rally at BMA headquarters 200 GPs and other healthcare workers attended the rally at BMA headquarters Video from the rally

Manifesto for General Practice

Point five of Pulse's 'Manifesto for General Practice' is to 'Put the brakes on the private sector'.

To find out more about the Manifesto for General Practice, please click here.