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GPs have faced too much criticism, says NHS England medical director

NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has said that he feels there has been ’overcriticism’ of GPs in the recent past.

Giving evidence to MPs on the House of Commons Health Committee yesterday, he said too much negativity comes ‘at our peril’.

Sir Bruce, a cardiac surgeon, said he thinks being a GP is ‘one of the hardest jobs in medicine’, adding that it was ’important to say that at a time when general practice is going through quite a lot of turmoil’.

Sir Bruce said: ’I’d just like to pay some credit to people that work in primary care. Because it seems to me that, through a number of routes, there has been quite a lot of criticism of primary care in the recent past and I think there is a risk of over-criticism at our peril.’

He said that comes as both GPs and their staff are having to deal with increasing demand, rising expections and increasing complexity in their patient workload.

He said: ’In my view it is a really hard job. They have to be clinically, intellectually and emotionally strong… Day in, day out, I think general practitioners are having to sort out the wheat from the chaff to identify major clinical problems masquerading as minor ailments. It’s ugly, relentless, and I think it requires quite a lot of intellectual flexibility.’

Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, who chairs the health committee, said his comments were likely to be ‘deeply appreciated’.