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Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Dr Ian Campbell: The Government really IS out of touch with what’s happening in general practice if they think their two-week GP appointment plan is achievable

Dr Campbell is a GP at Jubilee Park Medical Practice in Carlton and shared his thoughts on the recent Government announcement with Gedling Eye

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This week saw the first substantive policy announcement from the new health secretary, Thérèse Coffey.

On Thursday morning, she shared her ‘Plan for Patients’ that contained a number of initiatives designed to reform healthcare.

One of the measures included was a commitment to patients that they would see a GP within two-weeks if they had non-urgent needs.

Dr Ian Campbell is a GP at Jubilee Park Medical Practice in Carlton and shared his thoughts with Gedling Eye following the plan’s release…

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I welcome the Government’s announcement that all patients should be able to have an appointment their GP within 2 weeks – who wouldn’t?

NHS staff used to be able to take pride in the quality of the care they could deliver and the speed within which we could respond to patient need.

It’s why we do the job.

GP
Patients will get to see a GP for appointments about non-essential needs within two weeks
The new promise was contained within health secretary Thérèse Coffey‘s new ‘Plan for Patients’ that was unveiled yesterday

But unfortunately the Government hasn’t the slightest chance of succeeding.

They either know that, in which case they are deceiving the public; or they don’t realise it, because they are completely out of touch with what’s really happening in general practice. 

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General Practice is under greater pressure than ever before. Increased demand from patients with much more complex medical problems, with a grossly understaffed workforce and poor support from secondary care has created the perfect storm.

The problem pre-dates Covid, but Covid has certainly amplified and highlighted the crisis. We have 2,000 fewer full time GPs now than we had four years ago when the Government promised us 5,000 more.

It’s estimated that another 8,000 GPs will leave or retire in the next eight years.

We have 2,000 fewer full time GPs now than we had four years ago when the Government promised us 5,000 more.

It’s fine to claim we’re training more doctors, but medical student places at University have actually been decreased this academic year! And someone entering medical school now will take more than 10 years to become trained as a GP. And that’s if they wanted to be a GP. Young doctors are voting with their feet, avoiding general practice, preferring hospital roles or leaving for overseas work. 

To claim we can offer more appointments for patients by drafting in allied professionals, nurse, pharmacists, physios and so on, is fine, but each one that joins general practice leaves a void somewhere else.

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In short, we have too few health professionals available to meet demand and too little resources to deliver. It’s a bit like asking a builder to build you a smart new home, agree a completion date, and a price, and then tell them there are no windows available, not enough bricks and too few builders to do the work. But you’ll insist on it being built perfectly and on time in any case and blame the builder for not doing the job properly.

This is clearly a problem long in the making, and any solution will need long term and sincere Government commitment to the NHS, with realistic expectations and significant funding to break the cycle of decline we have witnessed.

The alternative is too daunting to consider.

If we don’t have a publicly funded NHS, free at the point of delivery, for everyone, we face a privately funded or insurance based alternative, in a world where only the wealthy can afford to be healthy.

Life expectancy in the UK has actually decreased in the last decade, people are dying younger because of a lack of funding in healthcare, social care and other public services.

It’s down to us to resist this change, to defend our NHS and demand real Government commitment to long term investment in our public services.

Only then do we have a hope of patients, all patients, being able to see their GP within two weeks!

Spotted something? Got a story? Email our newsdesk news@gedlingeye.co.uk

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2 COMMENTS

  1. If you voted for Mr. Tom Right-Wing Randall, then you have brought this down on Gedling. How do you feel about that?

  2. The present government has been in power for 12 years; the yo-yoing of ministerial positions among the party faithful has made no difference at all to the over riding principal they have of reducing state provision. To say “free at the point of use” does not mean the NHS, it means a private company being paid to carry out a NHS service. so it’s not just the ineffectual Tom Randall, it’s all those others who were voted in on a big lie. The eroding of NHS GP services especially, which is the front line of the NHS is designed to make people believe that the system isn’t working and those who can will go to a private GP. Each private GP means one less for the NHS, so the service for those who are poor or who have complex problems unacceptable to private practice as less profitable, have more difficulty accessing medical care, renewing criticism that the NHS isn’t working, exerting more pressure on overworked NHS professionals and leaving services open to bids from profit orientated health companies with poorer terms and conditions for staff … and so the deterioration goes on. Welcome to Health Service USA. Note absence of the Oxford Comma

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