Dr Maureen Baker: What conference season means for GPs

Conference season is a really important time of year and will be particularly interesting this year, in the run-up to next year's general election.

Dr Baker: ' 'Look out for the RCGP manifesto which we will be launching shortly.' Pic: RCGP
Dr Baker: ' 'Look out for the RCGP manifesto which we will be launching shortly.' Pic: RCGP

The NHS is going to be a key issue for all political parties in the election - as we have seen, it is also centre stage in the Scottish referendum.

We know the Conservatives will be focusing on care for vulnerable elderly patients. Labour has focused on initiatives to cut waiting times for patients to see their GP. And we have heard from the Lib Dems about a 'patient premium' to address health inequalities.

Look out for the RCGP manifesto, which we will be launching shortly. It will outline what we think needs to happen to keep general practice - and the wider NHS - sustainable and safe for patients.

Needless to say, a key component will be the intense pressures facing GPs as we conduct 90% of all NHS patient contact for just 8% of the budget.

This cannot go on and I hope politicians from all parties recognise this, and the high regard in which our profession is held by British voters (our patients), and will act on our call for 11% of the budget by 2017 in their own manifestos.

For me, the jewel in the crown of conference season is our annual conference, this year being held in Liverpool on 2-4 October.

This will be my first conference as chairwoman and looking at the programme, I am confident that it is going to be one of the most dynamic and thought-provoking yet.

Some key names in healthcare will address the conference, including health secretary Jeremy Hunt, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, Professor Les Toop from the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, who will speak about federations, and Dr Gavin Francis, who will tell us about being a GP in Antarctica. Amazing variety.

There are also numerous clinical sessions and debates throughout the conference, on topics ranging from safeguarding young patients and caring for the frail elderly, to health inequalities and ethical dilemmas that GPs face on a daily basis.

It's going to be a conference to remember, so I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Dr Baker is a GP in Lincoln.

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