Recently Spilsby GP Dr Kieran Sharrock was joined by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP at the national launch of a campaign to Rebuild General Practice.
Underfunding and the absence of a proper workforce plan have resulted in 1600 fewer qualified full-time GPs now than in 2015. That’s the equivalent of 2.5 million people losing their doctor. There aren’t enough primary care staff to meet patients’ needs, and 9 out of 10 GPs across England, Wales and Scotland believe that at times this risks your safety. If you wait for the phone to be answered, if you ask why we can’t see every patient face-to-face, this is why. We want to deliver the best care we can to our patients and communities, but the gap between what we aspire to do and what we can do grows ever wider. Staff are burning out and dropping out.
Guidelines suggest consulting more than 25 patients a day risks fatigue and errors. Our own duty nurse consultant or GP routinely deals with 80-120 requests for care each day – some triage, some full consultations. When you add in prescriptions, test results, referrals, and letters, every one of us is making too many important decisions for you each day. This must change. We hope you will add your voice to ours in calling on the NHS in England to plan the workforce you need; supported by the health secretary and funded by the chancellor. They need to tackle the problems that force staff out of the NHS, make our workloads sustainable and maximise your safety. We want to revitalise General Practice. We want government to start working in partnership with General Practice, and to trust us to lead that change.