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With support like this

Short-term boost

The health secretary’s latest attempt to court popularity with GPs has seen ‘Whitehall sources’ tell the Daily Mail that the Government is removing requirements to socially distance in GP practices. Phew, because that was the only thing that was preventing GPs from seeing patients face to face.

It seems as though this is one of the measures that will be announced as part of the ‘support package’ that is due to be announced imminently. This ‘support package’ is set to remove bureaucracy from GPs. This is a measure so good that they’ve announced it hundreds of times, and I for one am excited to see how they won’t remove bureaucracy once again.

But let’s face it, this won’t be a ‘support package’ for GPs. Yes, there will be some bones thrown to GPs, but it will go the way of the 10-point plan, the GP Forward View, the PCN DES, all of which looked fine at first glance but turned out to be far more work for a bit more funding.

In reality, this is a ‘support package’ designed by the health secretary solely with the Mail and the Telegraph in mind. Everything Sajid Javid has done so far suggests that he is quite happy to sacrifice any remnants of good will to appease the right-wing press.

The kicker is that, when it becomes absolutely clear that the ‘support’ is offering little, GPs will be further disparaged for failing to support patients themselves despite this ‘support’.  And then we will further wonder why GP numbers are falling. So my sources tell me.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at


Josef Kuriacose 14 October, 2021 1:07 am

Dear Jamie As I have said before, this is not the patient’s, the paper’s, the health secretary’s or anyone else’s created fault or problem, but one of our own making. We do not define safety in patient numbers seen every day, or hours worked or any parameter. We accept an open ended Contract that is based on number of patients. As Consultation rates go steadily upwards [X 3 in the last 25 years, 2 to 6/ patient year], we have to see more and more patients a day and it becomes unsafe, intolerable, undoable and leads to burnout. But saying a GP is seeing 50 patients a day cuts no ice because that is what we accept as a Contract. Define safety first, [ as pilots and HGV drivers do] then we have to propose an appointment based Contract where we provide a safe number of appointments a day. If patients wait, then we do not have enough GPs. Currently, if patients wait excessive times, we are in breach of our Contract. So, let us stop blaming everyone else, if we vote for the same Contract at every ARM

David Church 14 October, 2021 9:13 am

Josef and Jaimie are right.

It is time to reject the Contract , the pay award, and the ‘support package’, and take seriously our role to advocate for patients (and staff), and come up with a proper new contract that best serves the NEEDS of the patients and the staff and service, to run it safely.

Government may be shocked that they have to increase GP budget by, maybe as much as 10% of what they wasted on rubbish contracts for covid services never reveived; but the coal face GPs and the patients will benefit hugely.

Vinci Ho 14 October, 2021 11:01 am

I have been keeping my silence as we were supposed to ‘embrace’ this rescue package until now :
(1) This is a political battle we have to fight to reset both the front and bottom red lines . The public opinions are clearly intensified by those media stirring up the post-apocalyptic anguish and dissatisfaction. There is no doubt that many patients are already suffering but that is not the reason to green-light stretching primary care and GPs beyond their natural limits. Whose fault is that ? I think we should let history judge on that ,as we are right in the middle of a historic moment .
(2) The demeanour of the government, so far , is partly incompetent but also duplicitous. The party propaganda media clearly has been spinning in a way that GPs are the main culprit , started from the moment that ‘GP surgeries are not open’. Perception dominates : a rich with a million pound actually ‘had’ 100 million because people thought he had that.
It begs the question why did the government (NHS England ) allow this perception to dissipate?
(3) One thing then easily leads to another . We are now simply beyond exoneration , at least ,in the eyes of some . The forthcoming deadline for GPs to declare annual incomes beyond £150,000 is a good political tool to implement the last straw on camel’s back . The ‘intrigued’ media would love further spin labelling all of us obstructive , uncooperative and most importantly ‘misusing’ tax-payers’ money .
(4)While I would always argue , the amount of money we earned simply reflected absorption of all the workload left behind in a broken system with rapidly dwindling full time GP numbers . And clearly , the common sense question is why ? The government has already had plenty of time to acknowledge this .
(5) So what now ? The forthcoming national LMC conference is perhaps the last opportunity to make up our mind . Lie down and rot ? Or consider at least some kind of uncooperative movement? (Considering we are already were the ‘bad guys’)
Somebody on this platform already mentioned ‘why don’t we just give them what they ‘want’ ?’ This is clearly not an act of capitulation but rather , we are to provide ONLY face to face consultation for every request but nothing else( forget phone calls , forget e-consultation). Every session is run with a fixed number of appointments for example , 12 appointments for 3 hours .
Of course , every action has a price to pay but I would only quote what Bond said in latest 007 movie (watched it on the first day !):

‘’If we don’t do this , there will be nothing left to save ‘’

Patrufini Duffy 14 October, 2021 1:23 pm

You closed walk in centres. You bailed out hospitals. You clapped with blood on your hands. You redirected 111 into GP. You killed off their colleagues. You harassed and bullied and inflicted depression and anxiety on the carer. You let CQC shut surgeries down. You encourage racism within medicine. You laud complaints and nurture fragmentation. You say to patients they’ll do this, but then tell you that you can’t and we’ll monitor you if you do. You succumb to private consumerism with online consultations and e-consult. You procured “solutions” which created deep problems within an ongoing pandemic of ugly hypochondriasis and aggressive want. Your over-promise with a sour long tongue. You slagged off scientists and poisoned society with illness, greed and inequality. And you hide behind your bodyguards and fortress. Without enquiry. Without prosecution. And instead inflict that on good doing humans. Children wouldn’t want to e doctors and we wouldn’t encourage them to be one. That is your cataclysmic mistake. Not now, but in 10 years time. You’ve made too many silly moves and the world has changed. Evil soon gets found out by the universe. Be very careful. Because, ultimately it is the dictatorship that will fall, when the good-doers step back and the crowds see you face to face.