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RCGP sounds alarm with emergency action plan as GPs reach ‘breaking point’


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General practice is at ‘breaking point’ and urgent action is needed from the Government to help GPs deal with the aftermath of Covid and prevent them and their staff from burning out, the RCGP has warned.

Launching an emergency action plan for recovery today, the college said the set of proposals ‘sends out an SOS for general practice’.

It is calling for greater efforts to recruit the 6,000 GPs promised in the Conversative manifesto, the eradication of bureaucracy and unnecessary workload that is leading to burnout, and improved recruitment of the 26,000 additional clinical roles being brought into primary care networks (PCNs), all by 2024.

GPs must also be able to work in modern buildings that are fit for purpose by 2024 through £1bn investment, and it is crucial they have a ‘strong voice’ in new integrated care systems, which are set to take over from CCGs from 2022, said the RCGP.

The plan also calls for:

  • funding in place for at least 4,000 GP trainees every year, expanding towards 5,000 as soon as possible
  • a new GP retention strategy, including looking at ‘agile working’
  • implementation of ‘light-touch and risk-based’ regulatory models, reducing paperwork and reporting requirements
  • an overhaul of contractual requirements, such as QOF, to focus on alternative ‘high-trust’ approaches for showing high-quality care
  • more staff in the wider practice team to be able to prescribe medications or sign fit notes
  • improved access to structured training and induction programmes for additional clinical roles hired by PCNs
  • additional investment in local leadership, by increasing funding for PCN clinical directors by at least 0.5 of a full-time-equivalent role

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said before the Covid-19 pandemic hit GPs were ‘already under immense workload and workforce pressures’.

The impact of the pandemic has meant these pressures are now ‘unsustainable’ and as the virus outbreak moves beyond the critical period, primary care teams must be given support to help care for their patients, including those with long Covid and related mental and physical problems, he added.

He said: ‘We simply do not have enough GPs to meet the needs of a growing and ageing population, with increasingly complex conditions, on top of managing the fallout and work backlog from the pandemic. If general practice collapses, the rest of the NHS will follow not far behind it.’

Professor Marshall called upon the health secretary and incoming chief executive of NHS England to take ‘urgent action’ by heeding the RCGP’s call for its emergency proposals to be put in place.

He added: ‘We are offering the new secretary of state and the incoming leader of the NHS in England ready-made solutions to the problems that have beset general practice for more than a decade – our proposals will improve the care of patients for generations to come.

‘We now need urgent action and for those solutions to be implemented.’

A major Pulse survey earlier this year revealed GPs are working 11-hour days and dealing with an average of 37 patients in that time – far more than the 28 patients they believe is the safe daily limit in the pandemic.

The BMA has also warned the latest GP workforce figures show the number of GPs is failing to keep up with current demand.

Former RCGP chair Professor Dame Clare Gerada has spoken out about a burnout crisis in general practice, following more than a 20% rise in cases at mental health service NHS Practitioner Health during the pandemic.

READERS' COMMENTS [10]

Decorum Est 29 July, 2021 10:46 am

The plan DOESN’T also call for:
GPs to cease doing proven useless and even destructive activity (make your own list – would suggest that appraisal etc is up there).

Slobber Dog 29 July, 2021 11:19 am

Been this way for some time.
Come on RCGP, stay up to date and try to be useful

Turn out The Lights 29 July, 2021 11:22 am

Very very behind the curve RCGP ,say 5+ year behind.A lot of us have made plans and nothing that can or will be done will change them.

Martin Tant 29 July, 2021 11:24 am

After 25 years as a partner and now left last man standing to run my practice as a single handed for the l3 years, I have come to the sad conclusion that maybe this time we need to let it collapse. Then we can build it back up to the service that we need it to be, with sensible capacities, reduced bureaucracy, a better limit on effective and cost efficient treatments and with controls on the “entitled”. Maybe it’s time that our leaders and our unions stood up to crass statements from NHSE about closed doors and face to face dictats. Maybe our politicians should properly recognise that just 2 practices in our PCN have delivered over 30,000 Covid vaccinations so far to our local community and not keep suggesting that the NHS success is purely down to the courageous few working in ITUs and A&E. Or is it maybe that I too should on a plane to New Zealand right this minute with my most recent colleague, to start a new life in a health service that may value my input more than our own does. Sometimes we should choose our future more carefully than we probably will to try and end up with something better than we have.

Patrufini Duffy 29 July, 2021 2:41 pm

The alarm bell is sound-free. No minister likes a GP. And the public couldn’t care less. They just need access to your complaints policy.

John Graham Munro 29 July, 2021 3:07 pm

Perhaps Professor Gerada can tell me what ”exactly” burns G.Ps out——-it never seems to affect ‘locums’

John Glasspool 29 July, 2021 6:04 pm

All this “calling for” and “must be done” achieves zilch. It needs to collapse and re-start. But instead, GPs will keep on bitching, some will become alcoholic, and some, sadly, will comit suicide. No one cares.

Dave Haddock 29 July, 2021 8:54 pm

Outside of the echo chamber, does anyone give a rat’s @rse about the RCGP?

Patrufini Duffy 29 July, 2021 11:00 pm

Who really cares? GPs buggered by their own GPs from time immemorial. You know those certain medical student types. Clare Gerada and Arvind Madan heading up eConsult and puppeteering you with those contacts within NHSx, the RCGP and NHSE to which NK and EW are silently privy. It’s all an inside job. The disease is within the tree. But it’s ok…the leaves are falling. And it is all a pointless trivial déjà vu. The greatest conspiracy. But the universe is doing it’s rounds like I said.

stephen mann 14 September, 2021 9:48 pm

The NHS is in a complete mess. The response of the Politicians and NHSE et al is to keep changing the goalposts to avoid the obvious problems. The ICS agenda is a sham for a power grab by secondary care, Locally there is no primary care voice or strategy at ICS level. There is lip service but no real understanding of the fact that the NHS will collapse without vibrant, transformational, high quality primary care. The real issue is those of us who care come from a compassionate caring perspective, and seek rest in others decisions. These others don’t. So looking for logic in their plans will leave you chasing shadows, following mirages that disappear, because that is their way.