The profession is ‘on the edge’ as doctors try desperately to deal with the ‘double whammy’ of the ‘sheer, unparalleled scale of demand’ and NHS structural reforms, Dr Porter warned in his maiden speech to the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Edinburgh on Monday.
The consultant who took over the top BMA job from GP Dr Hamish Meldrum last year, said doctors need to be heard, or the ‘NHS will fail’.
He cited the roll out of NHS 111 and the imposition of the 2013/14 GP contract deal as evidence of the government not listening to the profession.
On out-of-hours care, Dr Porter said statistics make ‘absolutely clear’ that GPs are not to blame for the current A&E crisis.
He said that the statistics show GPs are treating more patients, with more complex conditions. He called on the government to invest in public health to reduce demand on the NHS.
GP contract negotiations this year should be the ‘result of genuine partnership with the government’ to improve patient care and not a ‘hit and run on general practice’, he said.
He said the BMA will ‘continue to hold the government to account’.
‘While building a Byzantine system that no-one wanted, the government’s response to the real problems in the health service has been inadequate and divisive,’ he said.
‘We are all painfully aware of the funding restraints on the NHS. It may have escaped the kind of swingeing real-terms cuts that other departments will suffer when the comprehensive spending review is published on Wednesday. But the claim that health spending is protected rings hollow when we face rising demand, new treatments to pay for, and virtually every NHS organisation is suffering year-on-year cuts.
‘The financial pressures are leading to far too many botched, quick fixes, including some drastic cuts in staffing which leave remaining staff spread far too thinly. How can we expect this to be safe for our patients?’