General practitioner England

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Seven-day services 'unattainable' under current crisis

Increased support for general practice is a positive step but opening practices seven days a week is not possible in the current crisis, the BMA said.

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said he supported the health secretary’s announcement today for an additional 10,000 staff, including 5,000 GPs, as part of a £10m investment for primary care in England.

However, Dr Nagpaul warned that demands for seven-day services were simply unattainable while the profession remained overwhelmed and under-resourced.

He said: ‘The secretary of state is right to highlight the great strengths of general practice and the need to increase investment to support this vital service that is so valued by patients.

‘GPs want and need more time to care for their patients, but at the moment, nine out of 10 GPs feel that excessive workload is damaging the quality of care they can provide patients, and this is having a major demoralising effect on the profession — one that’s pushing more and more doctors toward the exit.’

Career turn-off

Dr Nagpaul said the ‘pressure-cooker environment’ puts younger doctors off a career in general practice.

He added: ‘At a time when the Government recognises general practice is under-resourced, it is not logistically possible for GP surgeries to be open nationally seven days, without stretching GPs so thinly so as to damage quality.’ 

Dr Nagpaul said the Government should focus on making general practice a more rewarding and appealing career and support practices to provide accessible services during the day.

Speaking at a GP practice in south-west London today, Mr Hunt said that the ageing population meant that ‘effective, strong and expanding’ primary care would be increasingly vital to the wider health service.

The new GP deal includes:

  • Providing 12 months additional training in primary care related specialties, such as paediatrics, to medical students
  • Increased flexibility of working to enable retired or close to retiring GPs to work part time
  • The potential for creating financial incentives to recruit staff to areas most in need
  • 10,000 new staff including practice and district nurses, physician associates, pharmacists and 5,000 GPs.

Praising the quality and dedication of GPs, Mr Hunt said that doctors must work with the Government to make improvements a reality.