We have more GPs in training than ever before, but when more are leaving general practice than entering it, we’re fighting a losing battle.
Now, the requirements for PCNs with the ‘unfunded’ care home role could be another nail in the sustainability of general practice.
Many a GP has told me that they will pull out of PCNs, and even quit their jobs, if NHS England persists with its specifications.
General practice simply doesn’t have the funding and capacity to deliver them. GPs are the bedrock of the health service, but practices have been brought to their knees by underfunding and rising demand.
We need to seriously address the workforce crisis, as the failure to acknowledge the crisis facing GP services – an under-resourced, over-stretched shell of its former self, struggling to keep pace with patient demand, despite staff’s best efforts – could finish off ’the jewel in the crown of the NHS’ for good.
The NHS has the most stressed GPs by Western standards, as a result of relentless workloads, endless bureaucracy and the shortest time spent with patients, further evidenced by the NHS seeing its first sustained fall in GP numbers in nearly 50 years.
Strikingly, the number of GPs per 100,000 people dropped from 64.9 in 2014, to 60 last year. This new ask from NHS England may further fuel the exodus of GPs out of general practice.
If NHS England doesn’t get rid of these specifications, its long term plan will only be a wish list
The funding which has been labelled as ‘additional’ in the specs is counterbalanced by a disproportionately increased workload, leading to a net effect of doing more for less.
The service specifications would burden GPs with too many extra deliverables, adding to the pressure rather than reducing it.
Asking for this level of extra work by newly-formed networks who are still building relationships with concerned GPs risks a breakdown in any progress within the network.
The recent developments confirm my concerns.
The BMA must seek an urgent meeting with NHS England and ask for immediate scrapping of these specifications. If NHS England doesn’t accede this demand, its long term plan can only be a wish list.
Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP in Tameside