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a stethoscope image cbNovember 15 2017

The British Medical Association has published a list of areas it says need addressing to “turn around the current crisis facing general practice.”

Its document ‘Saving General Practice’ calls for:

  • recurrent and sustainable funding and resources to secure a minimum spend of 11% of the total NHS budget invested in general practice; a funding deficit that is currently estimated at £3.7bn;
  • a workforce strategy that is recurrently funded to enable an expansion of a collaborative multi-disciplinary general practice and community workforce working both in practices and within localities;
  • a sustainable, long-term indemnity package for general practice that covers all GPs on the national performers list and all staff providing NHS general practice services both in and out of hours (OOH);
  • enabling practices to manage their workload in order to deliver safe services and empower patients and carers as partners in care;
  • the retention of a national core contract for general practice that provides a high-quality service for patients;
  • premises, IT infrastructure and administrative support to enable the delivery of quality care.

The report has been produced following a survey of GPs asking how willing they were to close patient registration lists to maintain safe workload levels. The BMA said 54% of practices responded that they would be willing to temporarily suspend patient registration, whilst 44% said they would be prepared to close their list altogether.

“With an insufficient workforce, a funding plan that is no longer sustainable, a growth in population and a sea-change in the level of complex cases being presented, urgent steps need to be taken to save general practice,” said the BMA. “The problems outlined within this document provide a clear picture of the significant pressures currently undermining general practice.”

NHS England’s acceptance of the BMA’s 2015 ‘Urgent Prescription for General Practice’ has led to several initiatives which may help address some of the issues highlighted at that time. “However, there is much more that needs to be done and, as we stated in 2015, GPC nationally and LMCs locally stand ready to work with the Government and NHS England on the implementation of these actions put forward by GPC, which will go a significant way to rebuild the vital foundation primary care provides for the NHS,” it said.

“These issues cannot and must not be left unresolved if we are to save general practice and provide a service that is sustainable, safe and delivers the best possible care to patients.”

The RCGP’s Chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, has welcomed the report, as it “backs up what we’ve been saying on the severe workload and workforce pressures facing general practice and our calls for further investment and resources to support hardworking GPs and their teams.

“GPs are seeing more than 1 million patient consultations every day – accounting for the vast majority of NHS patient contacts – yet we've had a decade of underinvestment in general practice, and our workforce has not kept up with patient demand,” she said.

“There are limits beyond which we can no longer guarantee safe care to our patients – and this desperately needs to change.”

Links:
BMA ‘Saving General Practice’ report       
RCGP statement                 

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