General practices on brink of collapse, warns senior BMA official

19 May 17

GP services are on the “brink of collapse” because of underfunding and overstretched staff, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the British Medical Association GP committee chair has warned.

Nagpaul made the comments in a speech in Edinburgh this morning at the national conference of local medical committees, which represent GPs.

He complained about the figure of £350m per week for the NHS “audaciously plastered on double decker buses” during the EU referendum, adding that the NHS was “cheated” as it faced “a deep freeze in NHS spend, continued savage austerity cuts”.

He also blamed politicians for ignoring “spiralling pressures” affecting health and social care.

Nagpaul added: “There’s sadly no fat in other parts of the system to transfer to general practice, with a financial crisis spanning community, hospital and social care, all of which adds more work onto general practice.

"The real solution is a political one – in which politicians must end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens in an NHS that shamefully trails Europe in its funding, numbers of doctors and infrastructure.”

The BMA is calling on the next government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels to ensure GP services receive a “fairer and larger” share.

It cites a survey it conducted which showed one in 10 practices said they were not sustainable, and one in three practices were unable to fill GP vacancies. Nagpaul stressed that even in a seemingly secure practice, one partner retiring could cause a domino effect that could lead to collapse.

He stated: “We must therefore resurrect our Darwinian survival instinct, and stake our claim with our patients and the public to demand that the general election delivers a government that will fund the NHS properly – to bring spending on our health service in line with other European countries, plugging the enormous funding gap – and give general practice the resources to do justice to our profession, our discipline and the patients we care for.”

Commenting on the BMA’s warning, Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said: “Patients across the country are struggling to get appointments with their GP – but Theresa May doesn’t care.

“The NHS cannot take five years of a Conservative landslide that would give Theresa May free rein to cut services further at your local hospital.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, told The Independent that the Conservatives had “utterly failed” to support GPs in England, adding the party had “overseen an unprecedented GP workforce crisis in which ordinary people have suffered, unable to readily access their local service”.

Labour’s manifesto promised to increase funding for GP services as part of their proposal to increase NHS funding by £7.4bn a year – more than £37bn over the next parliament.

The LibDems have vowed to invest an extra £6bn into the NHS and social care annually in their manifesto which was launched on Wednesday.

The Conservatives in their manifesto yesterday pledged to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years.

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