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May gives two fingers to GPs and the country

Dr Kailash Chand

Sadly, Nigel’s prediction of Jeremy Hunt retaining his portfolio turns out to be true.

To add insult to injury, social care too goes to Hunt.

It’s also the biggest two fingers to the country and profession that Theresa May could think of.

In the middle of the worst NHS crisis, she gives the man responsible for it an extended portfolio of services to decimate.

No government has invested less additional cash in real terms in our NHS than the post-2010 government

Hunt’s record as healthy secretary speaks for itself. NHS spending, since 2010, has grown 68% slower that the NHS’s average spending settlement since 1955.

The share of the NHS budget for primary care is now less than it was when Jeremy Hunt took over as health secretary in 2012.

The ratio of GPs to population has gone down and work load has increased manifold during this time.

No government has invested less additional cash in real terms in our NHS than the post-2010 government. Just look at this record:

• 66 A&E and maternity wards closed, increasing GP workload

• 103 NHS walk-in centres closed or downgraded and patients flocking to GP doors

• 60 ambulance stations closed

• Thousands of cancelled operations with workload implications

• A&E crisis every winter

• 16,000 fewer beds

• Junior doctors’ strikes

• Ambulance delays

• Social care cuts

Furthermore, more than 1,000 GP practices have closed. Medical school intake has stagnated, and the recent promises to increase the numbers will not bear fruit for years. It is no surprise that the number of unfilled GP vacancies has climbed steeply since Jeremy Hunt’s tenure.

And I could go on.

Nowhere is the taxpayers’ money spent more efficiently than in a GP’s surgery. Seeing a GP costs one-third the amount of an A&E visit.

So cuts to GP funding and rural practices are ultimately increasing pressure on the taxpayer and patient.

Further, May now pours oil on burning injustices – Esther McVey, who lost her seat in 2015 in part over the backlash against her provocative championing of welfare cuts, is the new DWP secretary.

And May’s ‘new’ cabinet contains not a single new black, asian or ethnic member – leaving Sajid Javid as the only non-white face around May’s cabinet table. That’s her way of championing diversity.

Yes this reshuffle is just a ‘two fingers up’ to worried doctors, nurses and citizens.

Dr Kailash Chand is a retired GP from Tameside and is honorary vice-president of the BMA