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New report from MPs urges government to acknowledge the crisis in general practice

The Royal College of GPs has called on the government to act on the recommendations of a new Health and Social Care Committee report that states that there is a crisis in general practice.

The Royal College of GPs has called on the government to act on the recommendations of a new Health and Social Care Committee report that states that there is a crisis in general practice.

The report by MPs recommends that the government acts to address the intense workload and workforce pressures facing the profession as they strive to deliver care to patients.

It also accuses the government and NHS leaders of failing to heed the evidence on the importance of continuity of care, hastening the decline of a uniquely important relationship between a GP and their patients, in the midst of an acute and growing shortage of GPs.

Health and Social Care Committee member Rachael Maskell said: “Our inquiry has heard time and again the benefits of continuity of care to a patient with evidence linking it to reduced mortality and emergency admissions. Yet that important relationship between a GP and their patients is in decline. We find it unacceptable that this, one of the defining standards of general practice, has been allowed to erode and our report today sets out a series of measures to reverse that decline.

“The wider picture shows general practice as a profession in crisis, with doctors demoralised and overworked, the numbers recruited not matching those heading for the door. A reluctance by government and NHS England to acknowledge this crisis cannot continue and Ministers must set out how they intend to protect patient safety in the short term.”

In the report, MPs warn that seeing your GP should not be like phoning a call centre or ‘booking an Uber driver’ never to be seen again and note that care based on a doctor-patient relationship is essential for patient safety and patient experience.

Hope that Jeremy Hunt will make good on the recommendations

The British Medical Association said that given that both that report and findings will have been overseen by the former chair of the Committee, Jeremy Hunt, they can only hope that he will make good on these recommendations in his new role as Chancellor, and they look forward to working with him and the wider Government to enable the vision he has set out.

Dr Farah Jameel, chair of the BMA’s England GP committee (GPC England), added: “This report highlights the crisis in general practice, and has many crucial recommendations which must be implemented as a matter of urgency. Continuity of care is what patients want, what keeps people well, and what reduces health costs. We know that patients benefit from continuity of care, with the quality, strength and consistency of their relationship with their family doctor having a significant impact on their health outcomes.

“Against a backdrop of a global healthcare workforce shortage, we must recruit more GPs and retain every single one currently working in the NHS. Funding more GP training places, targeting under-doctored areas, and empowering practices to recruit the right skill mix of professionals to care for the needs of their community by disabling current barriers are recommendations that must be acted on as a priority.”

Urgent action needed now say RCGP

The RCGP said that the report recognises what the College has been saying for many years, that GPs and our teams are working under unsustainable workforce and workload pressures, and this is impacting on the care they are able to deliver to patients.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said : “GPs and our teams want to deliver safe, timely and high-quality personalised care for patients, but while workload escalates in terms of volume and complexity, numbers of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent GPs have fallen since 2015.

“We need to see urgent action taken, not just to further increase recruitment into NHS general practice, but to keep hard-working, experienced GPs in the profession longer, delivering patient care on the front line and not bogged down in unnecessary bureaucracy.”

He said that the College has already put forward a plan, which would help to achieve this. The Fit for the Future campaign calls on the government to address the spiralling workload and workforce pressures in general practice, including a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by the government in their election manifesto.

The College also wants investment into GP premises, IT and booking systems and a reduction in unnecessary bureaucracy so that GPs can spend more time on frontline patient care, and those patients who really need to see a GP are able to do so.

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