This site is intended for health professionals only

Dr Coffey’s announcement is not a plan

Dr Coffey’s announcement is not a plan

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, in response to health secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey’s announcement on access to general practice

It’s a shame that the health secretary didn’t talk to the College and to our members on the frontline before making her announcement because we could have informed her of what is really needed to ensure a GP service that meets the needs of patients and is fit for the future.

Lumbering a struggling service with more expectations, without a plan as to how to deliver them, will only serve to add to the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and our teams are facing, while having minimal impact on the care our patients receive.

Access to our services is important, but it is only a starting point to ensuring our patients receive the safe, personalised and appropriate care they need. Around 85% of appointments in general practice are already happening within two weeks of being booked, with 44% being delivered on the day they are booked – both higher figures than in 2019 – and those taking longer than two weeks after booking may be routine or regular appointments for which the timing is therefore appropriate.

GPs share patients’ frustrations when we cannot deliver the care we want to deliver in a timely way. But we are caring for an increasing number of patients, with increasingly complex health needs, and carrying out more consultations every month than before the pandemic – yet with fewer qualified, full-time equivalent GPs than in 2015.

We also need more details about the proposal outlined to publish more practice-level data. While we support transparency we strongly caution against creation of a ‘league tables’, which we know from international research evidence do not work in improving access to or standards of care. Different GP practices will serve different patient demographics, who will have differing health needs and services will be tailored to meet these. Introducing arbitrary performance rankings compares apples with pears and will only serve to work against and demoralise those working in practices that ‘rank’ lower.

General practice is the bedrock of the health service with GPs and our teams delivering the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and in doing so alleviating pressures across the health service, including in A&E. Our service needs to be protected and we have been calling on the Government for a bold plan that recognises the crisis facing general practice and to take urgent action to address it for the sake of our patients and the wider NHS.

Today’s announcement is not a plan. We need to see the implementation of a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by the Government in its election manifesto, funding for general practice returned to 11% of the total health spend, investment in our IT systems and premises, and steps to cut bureaucracy so that we can spend more time delivering the care our patients need and deserve.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 22 September, 2022 2:34 pm

They are using General Practice as a library, leisure centre, counselling session and surrogate hospital. The place to have a chat. For sweet nothings and mediocre hypochondriasis and self-care ignorance. Full of scapegoating, blame and redirection, from where the issues actually lie. Not a smart move however. No mention of time wasters, repeat offenders or DNAs. The consumer seemingly can do no wrong. But demoralisation is directly proportional to referral. Get excited about that. The DoH and NHSE have been infiltrated by US Harvard graduates. Paving the way for takeovers, and American firm led vertical integration. The agenda is set. They are here already. For now, it is easy for General Practice to break this entire infrastructure:
Refer it all.
Or step away (before they can procure the Americans quick enough).

Simon Sherwood 22 September, 2022 6:58 pm

I must be getting old and soft.
Martin Marshall seems to be better than some of the awful people he has replaced in the RCGP, at least one of whom being the most damaging to general practice and patient care for a generation.

I’m still not going to pay any RCGP subs btw

Turn out The Lights 23 September, 2022 10:35 am

Same here Simon RCGP + BMA have colluded in the mess we are now in.