GPs condemn impact of NHS reform on primary care

LMCs conference kicked off in bullish mood with GPs condemning the effects of NHS reforms on general practice.

LMC conference: GPs backed warnings over impact of reform
LMC conference: GPs backed warnings over impact of reform

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly GP Dr Beth McCarron-Nash told delegates that despite the creation of CCGs in England, GPs had little more control now than they did before the reforms.

She painted a grim picture of ‘the reality of post-reform general practice’ with micro management by NHS England area teams, years of funding cuts, patient care threatened, ‘practices struggling to maintain services in the face of spiralling workload bureaucracy, and top-down control’.

Delegates unanimously passed a motion warning that reforms had increased burdens for practices, putting patient care at risk, widening health inequalities, and seriously threatening core general practice.

Dr Andrew Taylor from Liverpool said ‘QOF chasing, CCG embracing, CQC preparing, revalidation obsessing, contract changing, and government sniping’ were ‘draining the lifeblood’ from GPs’.

‘Don’t let deceitful, duplicitous governments and politicians destroy the GP jewel in your NHS crown,' he said to loud applause.

Calling for support for a further motion, which described NHS reforms as an ‘exercise in cost cutting and rationing’, he said the lack of investment in general practice was preventing effective implementation.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the motion sent a strong message to government that  progressive disinvestment in primary care would escalate demand and result secondary care costs ‘rocketing’. He warned Jeremy Hunt that he ‘ignores investment in general practice at his peril’. The motion was carried.

Delegates also passed a motion warning that LMCs believed the government wished to privatise the NHS. Outgoing GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Sticking an NHS lozenge on a private business doesn't make it a part of the NHS.'

Proposing the motion, Dr Francesco Scaglioni from Cornwall LMC said the number of private healthcare firms donating to Conservative party, and MPs with links to healthcare companies, suggested the NHS was not safe in the current government's hands.

GPs also backed a motion declaring that general practice was ‘superb value for money’. To applause, Grampian LMC’s Dr Denise McFarlane said while GPs were trusted by 8/10 of the public, MPs had the trust of just 2/10.

‘If we were a bank and were struggling,' she said, ‘government money would be available with no reduction in take home pay for management. But we are not.’

She said with appropriate resources GPs could rise to the challenges they faced.

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