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#GPnews: Queen’s Speech offers ‘nothing’ for general practice

16:00 BMA chair Dr Mark Porter has also slammed the Queen’s Speech for failing to address NHS struggles.

He said: ‘There is a crisis unfolding in our NHS and there was simply no acknowledgement of this today. Services are at breaking point, yet the government has chosen to stick its head in the sand, ducking the big issues undermining the delivery of care.

‘Doctors prioritise patient safety, but the government’s choice to provide less funding than the health service needs is compromising safe staffing levels.

‘Many hospital departments and GP surgeries have numerous unfilled vacancies. Junior doctors try to cope with rota gaps on a daily basis. This creates a vicious circle, adding to existing pressures on doctors, further increasing the risk of burnout and making whole areas of medicine less attractive to doctors in training. A government that is serious about strengthening patient safety would listen, recognise the desperate need to attract more doctors in key areas and act. It must also end the public sector pay cap by which NHS staff pay is cut every year.

‘Mental health services too are in desperate need of investment. There are promises of more money but not enough action. Many patients have to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, when they would be better treated nearer home; many do not have any access to outpatient talking treatments for common mental illness such as depression or have to wait a year or more; others have tragically taken their own lives before receiving treatment. The NHS has let these patients down. Until the government guarantees extra funding, the measures outlined in this speech will not have the necessary impact.

‘The government also needs to reduce the impact that leaving the EU will have on health and social care across the UK, particularly around recruiting staff. To simply close our borders altogether would be terrible for patient care. International doctors bring great skill and expertise to the NHS. Without them, our health service would not be able to cope.’

12:05 Londonwide LMCs reacted to the Queen’s Speech, saying it ‘offers nothing new to address the state of emergency caused by workforce shortages, bureaucracy and squeezed funding in general practice, at a time when patients are increasingly facing extended waiting times, rushed GPs and withdrawn services’.

‘Nor does it address the crisis in social care funding which has a massive impact on the whole healthcare system and some of the most vulnerable in society,’ they added.

The LMCs said this comes as ‘in London 42% of practices have a GP or practice nurse vacancy, while 45% of practices have a GP who was planning to retire in the next three years’, arguing that ‘the Government needs to re-visit the “rescue package” for general practice in order to address the challenges we face’.

They said: ‘This promised support has instead become a bureaucratic exercise in filling out forms to chase small pots of money rather than the transformative prescription that was promised.’

11:55 The Queen has just delivered her traditional speech to open Parliament following the general election and, as was expected, it was very light on pledges relating to the NHS.

As the Independent reports, the only planned health legislation is a Draft Patient Safety Bill which will ‘instil greater public confidence in the provision of healthcare services in England’.

The Bill will establish a Health Service Safety Investigation Body which will ‘conduct independent and impartial investigations into patient safety risks’.

Which begs Pulse to question – what is it that the CQC is doing?

09:50 An audit into baby deaths and brain damage during birth has found that three in four instances could have been avoided, reports the Telegraph.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists examined 1,136 deaths, stillbirths and brain injury cases in 2015, finding that if a different action had been taken the baby might have been saved in 76% of those cases.

Professor Lesley Regan, RCOG president said: ‘It is a profound tragedy whenever a death, disability or illness of a baby results from incidents during labour.

‘The emotional cost to each family is incalculable and we owe it to them to properly investigate what happened and ensure the individuals and the healthcare trusts involved take the steps needed to avoid making the same mistakes again.’