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#GPnews: Daily Mail ‘names and shames’ GP practices that close for training

14:05 A public consultation meeting to discuss the NHS “sustainability and transformation plan” (STP) for Cornwall earlier this week didn’t go quite to plan, writes Cornwall Reports.

According to the write-up, the meeting in Penzance ‘ended in chaos as an angry crowd refused to be “organised” into small workshop groups and instead spent 30 minutes telling NHS chiefs that they should focus on securing more investment for Cornwall’s health service’.

It says Garth Davies, of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, ‘got as far as telling the crowd that lifestyle issues lay behind 75% of premature deaths before, one after another, people stood up and demanded information which the health chiefs said they simply did not have’.

The workshop group-free meeting ended up closing early, and a comment sheet inviting ‘questions, comments and feedback’ ended up only with the block capital message ‘ABSOLUTE SHAMBLES’, according to a picture from the event.

Whilst not exactly the Brixton riots, Cornwall Reports says the Penzance lot were ‘more rowdy’ in nature than their counterparts in Bude, ‘where a smaller – and significantly more elderly – crowd had divided obediently into small workshops to consider the relative merits of differing aspects of the health and social care system’ on the previous evening.

11:50 South London GP and former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada was on BBC Newsnight yesterday calling for more money for general practice, and the NHS in general.

She said: ‘It’s sometimes too easy to say “we need more money”, but we need more money. We have an incredibly cheap health service. We eke out so much care from our health service.

‘We have one of the most efficient health services in the world. And do you know what? The health service is a precious gift to the people of this country. If we lose it, we will all be the worse off for it.’

Further, asked about the British Red Cross statement that there is a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the NHS, Professor Gerada said: ‘I wouldn’t use the term humanitarian crisis but I think it is a human crisis.

‘I think it’s a human crisis for those elderly people waiting hours on trolleys, and I think it is a human crisis for those children with mental health problems having to travel hundreds of miles to find a hospital bed. 

‘And it is certainly a human crisis for my profession, who are trying to deliver and are unable to deliver – and so it is certainly a human crisis.’

09:45 The Daily Mail is continuing its reporting following on from the NAO report into seven-day GP services, with a headline stating ‘The doctor WON’T see you now: Mail names and shames some of the thousands of GP surgeries shutting up shop in the afternoon’.

According to the article, ‘thousands of GP practices are closing their doors on afternoons, while others take a three-hour lunch break’, while some are ‘accused of playing system and claiming extra cash by staying open slightly later one evening a week’.

It says this comes as the NAO report published yesterday found GP practice opening hours were partly to blame for the A&E crisis.

The report comes as RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard already released a statement yesterday explaining why GP practices sometimes have to close during the day and that patients are still being cared for.

She said: ‘On occasions where practices might have to close for a short time, perhaps for staff training, adequate cover arrangements will always be put in place, and we make sure that, wherever possible, patients are fully informed well in advance.

‘It’s also the case that while a practice may be temporarily closed to patients, it does not mean that care isn’t being delivered – GPs may still be using this time to conduct telephone or online consultations for patients, or by making home visits. This is especially the case for practices with fewer GPs who cannot leave other clinical staff without GP cover whilst they go out on home visits, and so the practice has to close temporarily.’

As Pulse reported, the NAO also found that seven-day GP opening cost 50% more than regular hours and may not be cost effective at this point in time.

But despite this, health secretary Jeremy Hunt went on to hail the seven-day access scheme to MPs in the House of Commons yesterday. Read the full story on that here.