RCGP hits back at Sarah Baxter Sunday Times column criticising GPs

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker has hit back at Sunday Times deputy editor Sarah Baxter over a column suggesting it would be better to 'abolish the GPs' than allow pharmacies to close.

In a Sunday Times column that appeared after Saturday's special LMCs conference - an event that saw LMCs agree to ask GPs about resigning en masse - the paper's deputy editor wrote that recent pharmacy funding cuts were a reform 'in completely the wrong direction'.

She said that GPs 'increasingly act as though serving patients is something of an imposition', and argued that access to basic healthcare could be improved by turning pharmacies into walk-in medical centres.

Hitting out at cuts that could see more than 1,000 high street pharmacies shut, Ms Baxter said: 'I'd rather abolish the GPs and save the pharmacies.'

Read more: Dr Maureen Baker special LMCs speech

She also called Dr Maureen Baker's speech at the emergency GP conference 'hilarious' after the RCGP chairwoman compared the GP crisis with Frodo's journey across Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.

Dr Baker said the 'outrageous' column, headlined 'If GPs can't be bothered with us, let's go straight to the chemist', came across as an 'ignorant rant'.

'GPs deliver 90% of patient care in the NHS for little over 8% of its budget,' said Dr Baker.

'I’m disappointed that she thought my Lord of the Rings analogy was hilarious when I was using it to accurately describe the despair that many colleagues feel with their current working conditions.

'Rather than being constantly besmirched in the media, we need support for our campaign to increase investment in general practice, including thousands more GPs, so that we can deliver the care our patients need and deserve, without putting  our own health  - and their safety  - at risk.

'GPs value the expertise and skills our pharmacy colleagues highly. That is why we devised a scheme with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to place pharmacists in GP surgeries; a scheme that is now being funded and rolled out across England, and is set to significantly improve the service we can deliver to our patients with long-term health conditions.'

The RCGP chairwoman has invited Ms Baxter to spend a day in general practice.

Special LMCs conference: full coverage

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