Responding to the independent GP partnership review, published today1, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:
“The partnership model is the backbone of general practice and is what has given it its strength and resilience, providing the foundation to the NHS for the last 70 years. Thus, as has been noted time and time again, if general practice fails, the whole health service crumbles around it.
“This important report, and the support offered to it both by the Secretary of State and the chief executive of NHS England, provides clear backing at the highest level to the partnership model as the best way of delivering what most patients want – and that is good quality continuity of care delivered by a locally-based team, embedded within their community, who they know and trust. The model, which gives practices the autonomy and independence to innovate while building quality relationships with people in their local community and being able to advocate on their behalf, is why both patients and the CQC continue to rate general practice so highly.
“It is vital then, that the model is given greater support to ensure its survival.
“The report rightly notes the increasing pressures placed on GPs partners and the growing risks and liability they carry, and it is therefore imperative that the Government takes these seriously, from backing changes to indemnity to coming forward with tangible proposals to reducing the risks inherent in owning and leasing practice premises.
“One key area – the significance of which cannot be underestimated – is the current workforce crisis. The number of full-time GP partners in England continues to fall as they struggle with workload pressures, and without enough doctors both the sustainability of the partnership model and the quality of care offered to patients are in jeopardy.
“In his recommendations, Dr Watson proposes a number of solutions to the problems in recruitment and retention, and as with the other areas of his report, we will be keen to work with the Government and policymakers to take these forward.
“The recommendations to address the long-term perception about general practice are particularly important to implement, enabling more doctors to experience general practice as part of training and giving more GPs the opportunity to learn more about what being a partner involves.
“We should be under no illusions, however. As is often the case with the most complex of conditions, there is no miracle cure or panacea within this report. Dr Watson’s recommendations will take time to implement, and decisive action and long-term commitment from ministers and health bosses, building on pledges already made in the NHS Long Term Plan, are required if we are to see the meaningful change both doctors and their patients desire, and a partnership model fit for generations to come.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a 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.
- The GP partnership review was independently chaired by Dr Nigel Watson, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, the BMA’s GP committee and the Royal College of GPs. The full report is available on the DHSC’s website.