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GPs Under Pressure
The first thing I think of when I read the words ‘under pressure’ is the Queen and David Bowie hit record and I know, you won’t be able to get the song out of your head now for the rest of the day! Maybe it should be the anthem for the British Medical Associations (BMAs) latest campaign to highlight the ‘unprecedented pressure’ GPs are under. In a previous blog I discussed that the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) were asking Practices to support and highlight their ‘Put patients first: Back general practice’ campaign, with the aim to raise awareness of the impact that the immense pressures facing general practice are having on our patients and staff.
Now the BMA are doing their bit. As part of the ‘Your GP Cares’ campaign, the BMA aims to get the public on board to push politicians to put funding towards attracting new GPs, retaining leavers and expanding overall GP numbers; expanding practice nurse workforce; and also pay for premises upgrades.
What’s the problem?
We all know that GPs are doing their best to provide services, and a wide range of good local services, in an increasingly challenging environment. However rapidly increasing demands caused by more complex needs, demographic changes and services moving out of hospitals is significantly contributing to unsustainable pressures on GP services.
The BMA has highlighted that, based on the current number of doctors working as GPs, there are simply not enough hours in the day any more to meet everyone’s needs. Practices are really struggling to recruit new GPs and to find locum cover so that patients can still be seen if a colleague is sick or absent. The increasing demand and workload pressures are leading to low morale and stress causing many GPs to leave the profession or to consider early retirement.
Many GP practice buildings are really old now and need considerable investment to create more room or simply to make them fit for purpose. GPs and their practice teams need greater support to deliver high quality services that meet the requirements of all their local patients.
Back it or lose it
I’ve said before that I believe we have much to be proud of in the NHS and we need to back any campaign that supports GPs and help safeguard patient care in general practice. With many GPs at breaking point I do believe patients are starting to realise their local Practice is under strain. However unless there is a real plan to increase retention of GP's, increase training of GP's, and increase funding of GPs then GP numbers are going to continue to decline, putting even further pressure on those still providing patient care.
Alison Lowerson – QCS Expert GP Practice Manager Contributor