Please see below a message from the GPC chairman plus BMA press release.
Dr. Robert Morley
Birmingham Local Medical Committee
I am writing to let you know that the BMA is today launching a new campaign, Your GP Cares. The GPC is acutely aware of the intolerable pressures that GPs are working under. Demand for GP services has simply outstripped capacity and a lack of investment by government has resulted in GPs struggling with unmanageable workloads whilst still striving to offer first rate care. This has in turn led to stress, low morale, and an emerging crisis in recruitment and retention.
In response to this we have developed a campaign Your GP cares which will put these issues and concerns into the spotlight. It will raise awareness amongst the public, patients, government and policymakers about the realities, pressures and constraints that are preventing GPs from providing the care they would like for their patients.
We will push hard for solutions to the pressures of increased demand caused by demographic change with older patients and those with more complex health needs, and of the increasing volumes of care moving out of hospitals into the community.
We will campaign for more GPs, working as part of properly resourced expanded practice teams, in buildings that are fit for purpose, to support the delivery of services that patients need and deserve. Your GP cares is calling for the long term, sustainable investment required to safeguard the high quality and cost-effective service UK general practice provides for our patients.
This campaign will be a prolonged programme of activity that will lead right through to the next UK general election. Both you and your patients can join the campaign now on our website, and which will also provide you with more information.
Later this month, we will be launching additional materials you will be able to use in your practice to raise awareness of the campaign and help you explain these issues to patients. I will be in touch with more details on this in due course.
The success of this campaign depends upon your active participation and I very much look forward to your involvement in our collective determination to achieve the long term sustainable investment and development that general practice sorely needs.
Chair of General Practice Committee, BMA
GP leaders call for urgent solutions to tackle the impending threat to patient services as ‘Your GP cares’ campaign launches
The BMA has today launched a major new campaign which gives patients the true picture of the threats facing general practice across the UK, drawing attention to the pressures from escalating demand and how these impact on services and patient access.
‘Your GP cares’ calls for long term, sustainable investment in general practice, as well as highlighting the unique strengths that general practice brings to the NHS and how it can be a key solution to managing the increasing pressure on the health service.
The campaign demands recognition from politicians and policymakers of the unprecedented strain that general practice finds itself under and the challenges that have left GPs struggling to find the time to deliver care to their patients:
•?Rising number of vulnerable patients: The 10 million patients aged over 651 and the 15 million people living with a chronic condition in England2 need more than the 10 minutes available to them in a standard GP appointment.
•?Increasing workload, but no extra funding: NHS England estimates that at least 340 million patient consultations are now undertaken every year, up 40 million since 20082. This will increase even further as the government moves more care into the community.
•?Appointment delays: In some areas patients are not always able to get an appointment when they need one because of the volume of work now facing general practice. In 2013 an estimated 26.2 million people waited more than a week to see their GP3.
•?Worsening state of GP practices: Many GP buildings are old and do not have enough rooms or space to cope with patient demand and expand services.
•?Plummeting GP morale: As pressure mounts on general practice, six out of 10 GPs are considering retiring early, further worsening the workload crisis4.
•?More care for patients with chronic diseases: Previously delivered in hospitals, this care is increasingly being provided through GP services. This combined with the UK governments’ desire to see more patients cared for at home or in the community, is further raising demand for services still further.
To tackle these issues, the BMA is calling for long term, sustainable investment to:
•?Expand the overall number of GPs to attract, retain and expand the number of GPs and ensure patients are given the time, care and services they deserve
•?Expand the numbers of other practice staff so each practice has enough nurses and other staff to meet the increasing needs of especially older and vulnerable patients
•?Improve and bring up to scratch the premises GP services are provided from and ensure local practices have the resources they need to sustain current high levels of care
Commenting, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said:
“I, and all other GPs, care immensely about our patients, and feel dismayed by the constraints impacting on services and undermining our ability to do the best for them.
“The environment in which we work is becoming increasingly challenging. GPs across the country tell us they are constantly fire-fighting to provide the services their patients need, leading to exhaustion and stress.
“We’re currently experiencing a workload crisis caused by rising patient demand, especially from an ageing society and those needing more complex care. The standard 10 minute appointment for these patients is simply not enough, yet increasing the time available to the 40 plus patients a GP sees each day will have yet another severe knock on effect of more delays in getting an appointment.
“This has been accompanied by a steady decline in the state of GP buildings and some practices facing closure from funding cuts. It is no surprise that we are hearing from GPs that they are struggling to recruit new doctors and that the number of those wanting to enter the profession is failing, while increasing numbers intend to retire early.
“All of this can have a detrimental effect on the services practices are able to provide, leaving patients frustrated as more and more are left waiting for appointments. It is time we addressed these issues head on, which is why our campaign aims to bring to people’s attention the true picture in general practice, and calls for the investment needed in GPs, practice staff and premises so we can deliver the care our patients deserve.”
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni5, a partner at a GP practice in South Yorkshire, has seen how the recruitment and retention crisis is affecting patient care 12 months after joining his surgery as a trainee:
“A year on and two GPs have already left, with another two senior GPs leaving to work in Canada, putting more pressure on our ability to deliver services to patients. It is a sad reality that many GPs are choosing to work abroad due to the increasing workload pressures in the UK; two of my friends who left three years ago ‘for a year’ are yet to return and I have no reason to believe that the ones leaving now will break that trend.”
He added: “Crisis meetings about how we manage the workload/workforce imbalance are becoming more frequent, and sadly, I feel like I’m letting my patients down as their frustrations are increasing and the queue at the door is getting longer.”
Katie Bramall-Stainer, a GP partner at the Wallace House Surgery in Hertford, says it is a real privilege to care for fantastic patients in Hertfordshire, but due to increasing workloads and cuts in funding, her practice is struggling each and every day to provide services at the standard her patients deserve:
"Our practice has lost critical funding due to changes by the government, meaning we’ve taken year on year pay cuts to pay the bills, whilst preserving our staff’s salaries and jobs. In six years' time, the tenancy on our Georgian building expires and we are unsure of what the future holds for our 14,000 patients as NHS reforms have created panic and confusion over GP premise funding.
"Despite all these issues, GPs at my practice and across the region still strive to provide the best for their patients and are working harder than ever before."
Notes to Editors
2Department of Health (2012): Long-term conditions compendium of Information: 3rd Edition
3Information from NHS England’s Call for Action (General Practice) 2013:http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/igp-cta-evid.pdf
5Further case studies are available on request
In the coming months the British Medical Association will be holding a series of deliberative events with policy makers and patients looking at the future of general practice, parliamentary engagement and we will be holding local activities in GP practices highlighting the key issues. For more information on the campaign please visit: www.bma.org.uk/yourgpcares (live from 00.01, Tuesday, May 15)
For further information or GP case studies please contact:
BMA Media Office
Telephone: 020 7383 6254
Strategic Communications Manager
Communications & Marketing Directorate
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