The RCGP has responded to Labour’s plans for NHS reform, saying it ‘strongly resists’ moves to abandon the GP partnership model.
The College said it was ‘open to exploring different models of general practice where they work well for local populations’.
However RCGP chair Kamila Hawthorne added that it ‘would strongly resist moves to abandon the current partnership model of general practice, which when properly resourced and supported, has been shown to work well for patients, the NHS and the taxpayer’.
‘Ultimately, without a robust, well-resourced primary care service, the NHS will fail – and frankly, no model of general practice will be sustainable unless we address the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and our teams are working under.’
In major policy speech this morning, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer spoke of the ‘declining’ partnership model, while also telling Radio 4 that the model is ‘coming to an end of its life’.
Labour has said it will solve the workforce issue by doubling the number of medical school places, however Professor Hawthorne criticised Labour’s lack of a plan for retaining existing GPs in the NHS.
She said: ‘Increasing medical school places, with the intention that many train as GPs, is certainly necessary and something the College would support.
‘But it will take years for these doctors to enter the workforce, so we need to see an equivalent and immediate focus on efforts to retain the highly-trained, experienced GPs we already have, delivering patient care on the front line.’
Labour also pledged today to improve GP access within just five years, hinting at plans to overhaul the GP appointment system.
The current Government has also been criticised for its lack of a plan for retaining GPs, with the element sorely lacking from the recent ‘recovery plan’ for general practice.
NHS England did say it will run a campaign to encourage departed GPs to return to the profession, working for practices or NHS 111, by promoting more flexible roles.
]The Government has also pledged to make it easier for qualified GPs to return to practice by replacing the current assessment structure with a personalised pathway.