Doctors demand more support and less bureaucracy as NHS works on COVID-19 recovery

Doctors have called for more funding, suspension of unnecessary bureaucracy and targets, and for GPs to control how they return to 'business as usual' as the NHS works to recover from COVID-19.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)

Delegates at the BMA's 2021 annual representative meeting (ARM) - taking place online - debated calls for GPs to be able to focus on delivering care and not meeting ‘burdensome targets or indicators’.

It comes as NHS England announced last month that it had no plans to suspend QOF work, despite the national blood test tube shortages. NHS officials have, however, recently opted to defer PCN service specifications - gradually phasing them in over the next 18 months.

Doctors at the online ARM backed calls for GP practices to be ‘empowered and enabled’ to manage their return to ‘business as usual’ - and warned that workload levels were unsustainable even before the pandemic.

GP bureaucracy

Delegates rejected a motion calling for the private sector to be part of the recovery plans for elective care, with GPs warning there ‘would be no way back’ for the NHS to improve services in the future.

During the debate, BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul stressed that pointless bureaucracy distracting doctors from their jobs had to be removed once and for all. He said: ‘Unnecessary bureaucracy and targets need to end full stop. They don't need to end or be suspended until the recovery is complete, they need to end full stop.’

In May Dr Nagpaul argued that CQC inspections that ‘divert time away from patient care’ and ‘instil fear’ among practice teams must be axed and replaced with a proportionate and supportive model.

GPs also said that GP services needed financial backing to cope with heavy workload and address the backlog of care.

Dr LJ Evans from the conference of LMCs, said: ‘No one in general practice wants to return to business as usual. Even before the pandemic, our workload was unmanageable and we certainly don't want to go back to that. 

'GPs are ideally placed to innovate and transform to provide the best possible care, but we need to be supported and financed to do this. Doctors are brilliant at problem solving.’

Motion in full:

That this meeting believes that honesty with the UK public is required with respect to the recovery from the pandemic and:-

i) endorses the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s plan for the recovery of Unscheduled, Urgent, Emergency and Acute care;

ii) insists that general practices should be empowered and enabled to manage their return to “business as usual”;

iii) believes that substantial new additional financial investment is required to increase and support the necessary workforce, equipment, facilities and support services to achieve recovery of physical, mental health and public health services;

iv) believes that the private sector should be part of recovery plans for elective care;

v) believes that all unnecessary bureaucracy and targets distracting from patient care should be suspended until the recovery is complete.

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