The BMA sent the following letter to the Daily Mail in response to its article 'Where have all our GPs gone?' published last Friday:
"Your recent report underlines the scale of the crisis across the health service and social care.
The health care system is under a huge amount of pressure - everyone is working at capacity and there is no slack in the system due to severe workforce shortages. There are simply not enough doctors, nurses, beds or hours in the day.
This was the case before Covid-19, and now, almost two years into the pandemic, the problems have got much worse.
As Beccy Baird from the King’s Fund notes in the article, GP practices in England are now seeing record numbers of patients and there are myriad reasons behind this increased demand. GPs and their teams are helping deliver Covid vaccines and boosters, and managing care for more people who are waiting for treatment in hospitals but are stuck on record-long waiting lists; an increasing number of patients are coming forward who may have put off seeking help earlier – either through fear of catching Covid, or for not wanting to ‘burden the NHS’, and are now more unwell as a result.
Similarly, attendances at emergency departments are at pre-pandemic levels after they dropped at the beginning of the pandemic as people stayed at home, and hospitals struggle to admit patients quickly because there are no beds for them to go to. In turn hospitals cannot discharge patients as care homes don’t have the space for them.
While we understand the frustration of patients who have had difficulty getting appointments, the root cause lies in chronic workforce shortages and a lack of proper investment. Without a workable plan to increase staffing, freeing up the staff we have to care for patients based on clinical need and directing investment to where it’s needed most, we will see no relief from the current crisis engulfing the NHS."
Dr Farah Jameel, BMA England GP committee chair
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- An edited version of the letter was published in today's print edition of the Daily Mail.