GPs must show unity and confidence to safeguard and ensure the future of their profession.
BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul heralded the recent campaigning and hard-won successes of GPs, such as the Urgent Prescription for General Practice and 2017/18 contract negotiations, in their fight for a properly resourced and sustainable general practice.
In a speech to the BMA local medical committees conference in Edinburgh, Dr Nagpaul warned, however, that there were no simple solutions to historic staffing and funding inadequacies, and that doctors must hold future governments to account.
He said: ‘Rebuilding general practice after a decade of neglect won't occur overnight, and there’s no single magic bullet for our multiple pressures.
‘Like before, we can – we must – get through these troubled times, with confidence and self-belief that the service we provide to one million patients daily trounces all the empty promises of politicians.’
Dr Nagpaul warned that since the conference had last met, the pressures facing general practice had been supplemented by wider challenges to the NHS, notably the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
He said that GPs could rightly be proud of the advances and concessions won from the Government through the BMA’s urgent prescription which had resulted in a raft of improvements.
These included an £157m investment into core funding as well as the decision to reimburse practices’ CQC costs fully, financial support for rises in indemnity fees and significant improvements to GP sickness cover.
In his address, Dr Nagpaul also highlighted, however, how general practice still faced many serious threats, with more than eight in 10 GPs reporting that workload pressures are having a direct impact on the quality and safety of the care they deliver to patients.
He added that, in recent months, GPs had also had to defend themselves from political attacks, with the Government earlier this year attempting to place blame for hospital pressures on general practice.
He warned that many battles still lay ahead following next month’s general election, and that ultimate responsibility for finding a solution to the continuing threats to practices up and down the country.
He said: ‘Despite these contract improvements, the plight of general practice remains parlous and on the brink of collapse. We’ve always been clear the crisis in general practice cannot be addressed by these annual contract revisions.
‘The real solution is a political one – in which politicians must end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens in an NHS that shamefully trails Europe in its funding, numbers of doctors and infrastructure.
‘The only solution is for the Government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, in which general practice receives a fair and larger share.’
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