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My speech to the General Practice Awards

I am far more comfortable communicating via the written word, but when I was invited to give a speech at the General Practice Awards earlier this month I knew what I wanted to say. Thankfully the audience humoured me and there was even a smattering of spontaneous applause along the way.

If you weren’t able to attend then you may be interested in the reading the speech (below) or reading the list of winners on the night (click here for a full list). These bright stories of success, despite the headwinds general practice faces at the moment, were good to hear and it was fantastic to see how thrilled the winners were to be recognised for their hard work. 

Please do enter the awards next year, if you can. If I am invited back, I will see you there.

General Practice Awards

General Practice Awards

Welcome all to the General Practice Awards. This is the sixth year of the awards that celebrate the brightest and the best in healthcare – and boy do we need to do that.

I am not going to sugar coat it. This has been a challenging year for general practice.

We saw falling investment, a severe shortage of GPs and rising expectations from patients and politicians.

We saw many practices approach the brink of the abyss. And some – very sadly – have to close their doors.

We saw a health secretary that thinks he can offer a ‘new deal’ to the profession that was neither ‘new’ or – in any sense of the word, a ‘deal’ – and get away with it.

On top of all of this, general practice is expected to open seven-days a week. It says in my autocue ‘PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER HERE’.

But despite all of this general practice remains the jewel in the crown of the NHS.

The average practice is funded £136 annually per patient for an all-you-can eat buffet of consultations, home visits and everything else you expect from a GP practice. Incredibly, that is less than a Sky TV annual subscription. How on earth you do that, I have no idea. But you do. Year in and year out.

Now, I am going to say something to you, because no-one else will. You won’t hear it in the Daily Mail. Jeremy Hunt definitely won’t say it. Neither will the CQC.

What you do every day for your patients is amazing. You are the reason that the health service survives, providing 90% of patient contacts with a mere 7% of the NHS budget. Your ingenuity. Your pioneering spirit. Your relationship with patients.

The health service is facing a fight for survival at present, and I am convinced that the only way out of this mess is if we support people like you to do what you do best. Because I know that every day you go into work, thinking of ways to run your practice better, treat your patients better and how to cut the meagre amount of cloth that the NHS has given you.

What you do in your practices makes a massive difference to millions of patients every day. No honest politician – if there is such a thing – could say the same. I genuinely don’t know how you do it. But I am incredibly grateful that you do.

Now tonight, we have opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of a chosen few.

Thank you to our panel of judges – you will find their names listed in your programmes. They’ve done an absolutely brilliant job and we indebted to them for giving their time to judge the hundreds of entries we received. They tell me that the entries were of an extremely high standard – so congratulations to the finalists here tonight.

And a big thank you to all our sponsors. Tonight simply wouldn’t be possible without the backing of the companies you can see behind me. So thank you again to them.

You represent the brightest and the best of general practice. And whether you’re a winner or a nominee, please do enjoy tonight. Although perhaps not too much, we need at least some of you at work again tomorrow.

Thank you.

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse