‘End 7-Day Open Obsession’

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GPs taking part in a demonstration of junior doctors
GPs taking part in a demonstration of junior doctors

‘FOUR months ago in this very hall the profession declared that General Practice is in a state of emergency,’ BMA GPs Committee (GPC) Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the conference of Local Medical Committees (LMCs) yesterday.

He added: ‘We gave the government six months to negotiate a plan to rescue General Practice from the brink or irreversible collapse.’ He warned: ‘Unlike the disputes that have faced our hospital colleagues, our problems and solutions are not confined to our contractual terms, but are as much about changing the wider environment in which General Practice operates.

‘An environment in which it feels that we are being set up to fail. Where a workforce that’s thousands of GPs short is expected to treat an expanding older population with multiple complex needs. Where a shrinking share of resources is given to doctors facing a mountain of unresourced work moving out of hospitals.

‘Where the organisations supporting us in the community have their budgets cut, while those who belittle us with petty regulations and threatening inspections are allowed to flourish.’

He went on to say: ‘The government finally responded with NHS England GP Forward View last month.’ He said that NHS England boss Simon Stevens ‘quotes a recent headline: “If General Practice fails, the NHS fails.” How long have we been telling the government that?’ Nagpaul said to applause.

He added: ‘Last summer I called on government to end its obsession with seven-day opening. It is notable that the Forward View was not launched with any publicity regarding routine seven-day GP services, and the words seven days or eight to eight do not appear in the document. Furthermore, our lobbying has ensured that there are no changes to the contractual hours of GPs.’

He went on to say: ‘Clearly any rescue plan must, at its heart tackle inexorable, unmanageable workload – this is the root cause of the desperate plight of General Practice today and a direct result of demand running roughshod over our skeletal capacity.

‘It’s simple. We need to reduce demand, or increase capacity, or best do both.’

‘GPs must be given longer consultation times in the interests of safe care, even if it means exposing a waiting list to see us,’ he said to applause.