GPs at breaking point! – While big pharma fleece the NHS

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Demonstration in Rugby against the closure of GP surgeries

THE ROYAL College of GPs (RCGP) has sounded the alarm over the crisis in general practice, calling yesterday for an urgent emergency rescue plan.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, says that the job of GPs was ‘largely undoable’ even before Covid-19, but that general practice is now ‘at breaking point’.

He is calling on new Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid and the incoming Chief Executive of NHS England to ‘save’ general practice by implementing a five-point recovery plan to prevent GPs and other members of the practice team from burning out and to ensure patients can continue to receive the care they need well into the future.

Professor Marshall said: ‘The launch of our five point action plan sends out an SOS for general practice – and crucially, it also provides realistic solutions for halting the crisis and protecting the care of our patients and the wider NHS by investing in the hardworking GPs and their teams who provide that care.’

‘General Practice in crisis: An action plan for recovery’ calls for:

1. A ‘ramping up’ of efforts to deliver the 2019 Conservative manifesto target of 6,000 more full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs in the next three years.

2. A system-wide programme to eradicate bureaucratic burdens and unnecessary workload by 2024, allowing GPs more time to care for patients and prevent GP burnout.

3. Improving the recruitment and integration of at least 26,000 other members of staff into the general practice workforce by 2024.

4. General practice infrastructure that is fit for purpose by 2024, to allow GPs to deliver care in a safe way from modern buildings and using reliable technology.

5. GPs to have a strong voice in integrated care systems in order to eliminate the waste associated with fragmented services, and in designing care for the communities they serve.

Meanwhile, a drug company that increased the price of a crucial thyroid remedy more than 10-fold has prompted fines of more than £100m by the competition watchdog.

Advanz pushed up the price of thyroid tablet packs from £20 in 2009 to £248 in 2017, making the drug unaffordable for the NHS.

It ‘exploited a loophole enabling it to reap much higher profits,’ the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

The fine applies to Advanz and two private equity firms.

Michael Grenfell, executive director for enforcement at the CMA, told the BBC that the decision to push up the price of the drug had had ‘a real human cost’.

‘The NHS simply wasn’t able to afford it on the scale that was needed,’ he said.

He added that the fine served as ‘a warning to any other drug firm planning to exploit the NHS’.