The BMA’s 'Your GP Cares' campaign will draw public attention to the pressures from increasing demand and call for long-term, sustainable investment in general practice.
The campaign will call on politicians to recognise the ‘unprecedented strain’ GPs are under. It will point to the combined effect of the rising number of vulnerable patients; increasing workload with no extra funding; appointment delays; the worsening state of practices; plummeting GP morale; and more patients with chronic diseases.
The BMA campaign will reinforce the RCGP's 'Put Patients First' campaign, which demands a halt in the decline of NHS funding aimed at general practice, and calls for 11% of the NHS budget to go to primary care by 2017.
General practice needs expansion
To ease the crisis, the BMA said general practice needs an expansion in the overall number of GPs, an increase in the number of practice staff, premises improvement, and adequate resourcing.
The BMA will send posters and other publicity material to practices and encourage patients to sign a pledge to support the campaign.
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs across the country were ‘constantly fire-fighting to provide the services their patients need, leading to exhaustion and stress’.
General practice was suffering a workload crisis caused by increasing demand ‘accompanied by a steady decline in the state of GP buildings and some practices facing closure from funding cuts’.
‘All of this can have a detrimental effect on the services practices are able to provide, leaving patients frustrated as more and more are left waiting for appointments,' said Dr Nagpaul. 'It is time we addressed these issues head-on, which is why our campaign aims to bring to people’s attention the true picture in general practice, and calls for the investment needed in GPs, practice staff and premises so we can deliver the care our patients deserve.’
GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, writing for GPonline, said: ‘We are showing GPs care about these issues and are calling for ministers to finally recognise that we can’t go on this way. Something needs to change. General practice is becoming unsustainable and it needs urgent help if it is to survive.’
She added: ‘There is no doubt that general practice is at a crossroads. We can either ignore the challenges and see general practice become completely overwhelmed, or we raise the problems with patients and push to ensure policymakers provide the funding and policies needed to deliver the quality care our patients deserve.’