Responding to shadow health secretary Wes Streeting's comments on reform of the existing GP system, Dr Kieran Sharrock, BMA England GP committee acting chair said:
“There’s no doubt that the situation in general practice – for both patients and staff alike – has never been under more pressure. GPs share the frustration of patients as demand outstrips capacity, and worry that they’re unable to provide the safe high-quality care that they want to.
“But as Mr Streeting himself alludes to, when supported properly, general practice is value for money and improves health outcomes, meaning people don’t need to go on to receive expensive hospital care. We agree with Mr Streeting that the GP contract needs to be revamped, to enable the most efficient, cost-effective part of the NHS to thrive.
“This shouldn’t be about reinventing the wheel though, when we know people value the continuity of care that their GP practice should be able to provide through the partnership model. We’re not at all averse to change and, in England, the BMA’s GP committee is already looking ahead to what contract will replace the current five-year framework that ends in 2024. We’ve already seen changes in recent years with a wider variety of health professionals working with GP practices and more direct referrals to people like physiotherapists that both benefits patients and reduces the burden on GPs.
“But what cannot be escaped is the spiralling workforce shortage that we have, which has been made worse by a lack of political support and continuous attacks on the profession. Instead of blaming family doctors and their representatives for problems with the health service – the opposition should clearly be setting its sights on the Government that has overseen a haemorrhaging of GPs over the last decade.
“This is not about ‘vested interests’. We represent our members and also want the best for patients. The two co-exist.
“We have offered to sit down and discuss this with Mr Streeting, to ensure that he understands the pressures on the frontline and how these can realistically be alleviated for the benefit of both staff and patients.”
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.