Suffolk GP invites prime minister to spend day in his practice

A Suffolk GP has invited Theresa May to spend a day with him after she was accused of 'scapegoating' GPs for the NHS crisis.

Dr Ben Spriggs
Dr Ben Spriggs

Dr Ben Spriggs, a partner at Woolpit Health Centre in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, published the open letter to the prime minister on social media.

In it he asked Ms May whether she would be prepared to see if she could ‘deal with 32 patients at 10-minute intervals with everything from heart attacks to mental health problems, never knowing what's coming through the door next’.

Dr Spriggs invited Ms May to ‘come and see how many I send to hospital? Perhaps two or three in a week out of nearly 200’.

The BMA has demanded urgent talks with the prime minister after media reports over the weekend suggested Ms May was seeking to blame GPs for the current crisis facing the health service.

The prime minister is reported to be demanding GPs open for longer after a Downing Street source told media organisations that 'a large number of surgeries are not providing access that patients need – and that patients are suffering as a result, because they are then forced to go to A&E'.

GPonline revealed yesterday how official NHS data show that almost nine in 10 GP practices offer some appointments outside of core hours, a statistic that GPs say proves the PM wrong.

Dr Spriggs told GPonline he was, like all GPs across the country ‘hurt and disappointed by the lack of understanding of what a GP does on a daily basis’ demonstrated by the media reports of the government’s position.

‘I wanted to give [Ms May] the chance to see for herself what we do and what harm comments like this in the press can cause,' he said.

Dr Spriggs finished his letter: 'See if you take up my offer. No? I suspected as much. Because unlike me and my colleagues Mrs May, you simply don't care.'

Dr Spriggs’ letter to the prime minister

Dear Mrs May,

Consider this an open invite. Come spend a day with me.

Come and see if you can deal with 32 patients at 10-minute intervals (or maybe over 50 if I'm the emergency doctor) with everything from heart attacks to mental health problems, never knowing what's coming through the door next.

Come and see how many I send to hospital? Perhaps 2 or 3 in a week out of nearly 200.

Come and see me be physician, surgeon, gynaecologist, paediatrician, psychiatrist, therapist, carer, social worker, friend or parent.

Come and see me visit frail, housebound patients in a 70 square mile area or provide end-of-life care to dying patients and families in their homes.

Come and see me snatch my lunch (if I'm lucky) at my desk whilst I deal with 50 blood results, 60 letters, 10-20 phone calls and train my junior doctors in my 'three-hour lunch break' or between patients.

Come and see me manage my small business; juggling employment law, HR, staff meetings, quality assurance, personal development/appraisal, clinical governance or meetings with NHS managers about whatever crazy hoops I've got to jump through, just to keep the money coming in, to pay my staff and keep the building lit and heated.

Come and see if you can do all this under the constant threat of making a mistake which might harm someone as you are so busy you don't have enough time. That any mistake that you do make might lead to you being sued and lose your livelihood and ability to support the family you don't see nearly enough of?

Come and see if you can do this unlimited care all for £136 per patient per year - a sum that won't even insure a pet.

See if making me do this 7 days a week for even less funding will make one bit of difference to the NHS crisis that chronic underfunding by your government of social care, primary care and hospital trusts has caused? A crisis that is leading my incredible A&E registrar wife to come in at 2am when her shift finished at midnight all this week?

See if this will encourage young doctors to join the fantastic profession that I love?

See if this will encourage my brilliant, experienced colleagues to delay their retirements?

See if you take up my offer. No? I suspected as much. Because unlike me and my colleagues Mrs May, you simply don't care.

Yours,

Dr Ben Spriggs

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