‘Defend GP Practices’ – BMA


THE BMA and GPs have condemned the way that NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are treating GP Practices.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee deputy chair said: ‘Instead of demonising those practices that are struggling, we do need to ensure that every local GP service is given enough resources and staff so it can meet public demand.

‘This is needed more than ever given we are in a difficult climate where 300 GP practices recently told the BMA they were considering closure because they were no longer financially viable.’

However, an alarming document leaked to the BBC and Pulse medical magazine yesterday exposed that NHS England will no longer help struggling GP practices and will instead allow them to go under.

The leaked document shows that a senior NHS England official has said vulnerable practices must ‘transform … or be allowed to fail and wither’. Paul Twomey, medical director of the Yorkshire and Humber area team said that NHS England is ‘no longer in a position’ to continue supporting vulnerable practices ‘irrespective of their willingness or ability’ to transform.

Letting practices ‘wither’ is a complete dereliction of duty, GP leaders said, adding that NHS England were taking on ‘Orwellian tones’ with this latest statement. Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, continued: ‘The term transformation seems to be taking on Orwellian tones when used in this way.

‘There are many practices who were previously performing well and valued by their patients but are now vulnerable because of spiralling workload and recruitment problems beyond their control. Such practices should not be written off. The whole basis of the practice resilience scheme is to provide appropriate support to practices and NHS England and CCGs should be trying to do all they can to utilise this resource.’

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, described the role of CCGs and NHS England. Starve the practices of resources. Micromanage them into the ground. Over-inspect and over-criticise. Then stamp on them.

‘It is hard to be transformative when you cannot recruit doctors or nurses and are under the cosh of all the stresses we know, then have your income and resources reduced making it even more likely that you cannot manage change and adapt.’ He added: ‘This is the most desperate and negative policy I have heard.’

• Waiting times in A&E departments across England this summer have been worse than every winter crisis for the past 12 years, bar one, figures show. Every winter the NHS has been plunged into a serious crisis, as a spike in illness during the colder months means that A&Es are pushed to their limit.

During November, December and January there were many A&Es forced to close their doors, or only treat patients who have life threatening conditions and tell the rest to go home. However, Tory Health Secretary Hunt has closed down so many A&Es that the remaining A&Es are under so much pressure that they are now experiencing a winter crisis all year round!

This summer, one in ten patients had to wait for over four hours in A&E during June, July and August. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have raised safety concerns about two-thirds of A&E units in England.

CQC inspectors are blaming the mass closure of council care homes and services for ‘causing overcrowding in hospitals’. The Care Quality Commission review said A&Es were the ‘weakest’ part of the NHS.

It cited safety as a major weakness, with 22 of 184 units rated inadequate and another 95 requiring improvement. The CQC called on the government to pump more money into the council care system to alleviate the pressure on A&Es.