Over the past five years our ability to provide the care that patients deserve has been undermined. GPs are at the sharp end of the top down NHS re-organisation by the Coalition Government, which has diverted £3bn away from front-line services and resulted in the largest upheaval in general practice since the NHS was created.
GPs have been pulled from seeing patients to sitting in meetings, placing more responsibility and pressure on an already overworked system. Patient trust and doctor-patient relationships have been eroded. This has made it more difficult for patients to see us and made it harder to work as a GP.
In order to tackle the ageing population and increase in chronic disease we need to make health promotion and illness prevention part of everyday general practice. Only Labour has a plan for a better future for our patients and healthcare professionals.
Andy Burnham has laid out a 10-year plan to integrate public health, social services, community services, primary care and hospitals around ‘whole-person care’. This can be done without any further major re-organisation.
A Labour government would replace expensive competition with co-operation, put patient care before profit and reinstate the Secretary of State for Health’s accountability for the NHS.
Labour is committed to improving the infrastructure of general practice by investing in premises and services throughout the community.
We need to make the profession more attractive and satisfying. GPs need a good work-life balance and this is why Labour is committed to 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 5,000 community health workers. This would also help give us the time to care for the patients. There is a better plan for the NHS, a better future for GPs, and it is the Labour plan.
Dr Onkar Sahota is a Labour member of the Greater London Assembly for Ealing and Hillingdon, as well as a practising GP in west London