Think-tank wants more help for GPs

1 Mar 01
The government has been urged to put more resources into primary care in order to improve services to patients and bolster GPs' morale.

02 March 2001

In separate initiatives this week, health care think-tank the King's Fund said the government could be undermining its own NHS policies, while the British Medical Association warned of an exodus of GPs from the health service.

The BMA said family doctors' morale had fallen to dangerously low levels. In an open letter to the UK's 36,000 GPs, BMA general practitioners' committee chairman John Chisholm said the government's interest in the problems of general practice was superficial.

This was exemplified by this year's pay award, which he said increased GPs' gross pay by 2.3% at most.

'The government has complacently shovelled more and more work on to general practitioners without giving the profession the numbers needed to carry it out. Now we are saying that we have had enough,' he added.

In a report, What has New Labour done for primary care?, the King's Fund warned that the government's modernisation of the NHS could be damaged by its insistence on directing more money to hospitals.

Steve Gillam, the report's editor, said: 'Over 90% of all NHS care happens in the GP surgery or in people's own homes. Yet they still do not receive a fair share of NHS resources, and we have yet to see a major shift of power from hospitals to primary care groups under Labour.

'Even in the NHS Plan, the majority of new resources were earmarked for hospitals rather than for GP surgeries or for services that visit people at home,' he added.


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