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21st June 2013

Is General Practice in crisis?

A new poll, by the Royal College of General Practitioners , reveals that 85% of General practitioners think that General Practice is in crisis.  It also finds that 93% of family doctors believe that working in general practice is more stressful than it was five years ago and 22% of family doctors have had to seek support, guidance or advice for work-related stress.

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said:

“The results of this poll show that general practice is in a state of crisis and that urgent action must be taken to restore the ability of our family doctors to deliver safe patient care for all.  General practice is at the heart of the National Health Service, and if it starts to buckle, the whole of the health service starts to buckle and patient care in both primary and secondary care will suffer.  The findings of this poll are truly shocking and they explode the myth, peddled by certain people in recent weeks, that GPs are somehow working less hard than other professionals across the health service.”

Dr Gerada is using these results to push for a larger proportion of the ring-fenced budget for NHS care.  Currently this stands at 9% of the £95.6 billion pounds allowed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a time when other departments are having to make cuts.  The perception seems to be that extra work commitments and a shortage of practitioners is at the base of the problem.  An extra 1% of the general budget allocated to General Practice would raise nearly £1 billion pounds to help fund another 10,000 GPs, which works out at about one per practice.

This dissatisfaction with General Practice is further fuelled by GMC revalidation, establishing Care Commissioning Groups and CQC registration.  Any one of these demands would be enough to add stress to an already busy professional life, but all three coming together has been onerous to say the least.  I have no doubt that the 22% of GPs who have needed guidance for work related stress is not the whole story.

Just to finish on a news item from today. The winner of this year`s Health Hero Awards is a GP, Dr Ronan Moran, who is labelled `The GP who is always on-call!”  He makes himself available to those patients who he feels need that extra bit of support.  In view of the bulk of this posting, I don`t know how he does it.

Dr John Shapter - QCS Expert GP Contributor

Topics: GPs


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