‘Now is the time to invest in general practice’, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 29 January 2022

Responding to a report of a review of primary care by the Secretary of State, Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP committee England chair, said:

 “After the year we have had, the way general practice has pulled together through the pandemic, the hard work we’ve all put in, it was a kick in the teeth to read about our future in the press with no warning.

“We would of course like to see details of the plan and we’re open to working in partnership on an independent review of primary care. Indeed, we are calling for a new contract. Over the past year we know that the equivalent of three million patients lost their GP which is a serious situation that must be tackled. Covid-19 has laid bare the enormous workforce crisis, we cannot import our way out of this problem, neither can we train our way out of this problem.

“But it’s crucial to remember how good general practice is for individual patient care. Continuity of care delivered in general practice has been shown to be associated with lower mortality rates, fewer hospital admissions, less use of Emergency Departments and fewer referrals for specialist healthcare. Yet, this high-quality, cost-effective, and timely care is underestimated and poorly valued by policymakers.

GPs are known to be pioneers of innovation, shown in the way we seamlessly helped to deliver the biggest vaccine rollout in history. Our future is to move from a diagnostic service to a population health management approach, where we care for patients in a coordinated, proactive way with prevention at the heart of our patient’s wellbeing. 

“Just as medicine has evolved over decades, so have patient expectations so it is time for us to accept, embrace and transform our services. A model of inflexible and short appointment slots only available from Monday to Friday within normal working hours, is something our patients really struggle with. These are important matters to consider, and we must spend our time solving these problems, designing a sustainable future together, one which works for our patients, and the profession. 

Now is the time to invest in general practice, not to try and reinvent the wheel through a wholesale change to the model. DHSCs own Partnership Review states that one of the key benefits of the model is that it ‘engenders a long term and deep understanding of a local population's needs, combined with the flexibility to respond to those needs.’ The existing model protects the vital relationship between GP and their patient and allows for individual care, rather than a top-down approach which is what general practice might become under these plans.”

Ends

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.