Dr Kailash Chand: CQC must not blame GPs for NHS crisis

CQC chief inspector of primary care Professor Steve Field has warned that GP surgeries providing poor or unsafe care would be shut down under a new 'two strikes and you're out' policy. He stated that 'if a GP practice is rated inadequate, that will be the starting gun to force it to improve fast'.

But will this really be the case, or is it just a way of blaming GPs for a healthcare system that can no longer cope with rising demand and diminishing resources?

GPs are dedicated to providing the best possible standard of treatment. Patient safety and care is every GP's main priority and the overwhelming majority of the 8,000 GP practices in England provide an excellent service to the nearly 1m patients who walk through their surgery doors on a daily basis.

It is important not to create a counterproductive blame culture based on isolated examples, which could wrongly damage patient trust in wider GP services. Where there are problems, we need to understand the reasons for any shortcomings and work to resolve them.

General practice is close to breaking point and GPs are increasingly frustrated by constraints that are affecting services and undermining our ability to do our best for those who need us. There are huge disparities between practices in terms of basic funding - some receive £70 per patient per year and others, anything from £120 to £200.

Many practice buildings are in a state of decline, with four out of 10 GPs saying that their premises are so cramped and inadequate, they are struggling to deliver basic services. Some are also struggling to recruit, as fewer junior doctors are training to become GPs and more senior GPs are retiring early or moving abroad for work.

This is deeply concerning and a threat to effective GP services. We desperately need more GPs, more practice staff and more nurses to meet demand and provide the care our patients deserve.

'Two strikes and you're out' is not the answer. We need the government to commit to long-term, sustained investment in general practice. The last thing we want is GP practices closing when what patients need is high quality, local healthcare.

  • Dr Chand is BMA deputy chairman.

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