Responding to a speech by the Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, about ways to reform NHS primary care, Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, deputy chair of GPC England at the BMA, said:
“It’s welcome news that Labour recognises the pressures that GPs are under and is determined to use innovative ways of solving the workforce crisis. No one can deny that GPs are working harder than ever to try and give patients the care they need but patient demand far outstrips GP capacity and staff are seriously struggling to keep up with this level of workload.
“Mr Streeting is absolutely right that more community services are needed to relieve pressure on GPs, and that medical places should be expanded so that more students can train in medicine.
“While Labour acknowledges the time it will take to train extra staff – 10 years for a single GP – and that short-term solutions are desperately needed, they can go further still. Cutting back on red tape and granting greater autonomy to GPs are good ideas and may help to stem the flow of GPs leaving the profession, but do not go far enough. In addition, improving archaic NHS IT infrastructure, crumbling NHS premises, and scrapping the punitive imposition of the 2023/24 GP contract must also make the list.
“We agree with Mr Streeting that ‘further decline is not inevitable’. We know what the NHS is capable of achieving, but that the current Government has consistently failed to make it a reality; while patients and staff suffer, the long-awaited workforce plan is still gathering dust. Today’s speech offers a glimmer of hope for what general practice could become, and the Government must follow this example and act now if primary care is to even survive.”
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.