Dr Maureen Baker: My fury when GPs are called 'overpaid'

Sometimes it's important to take a minute to think about why we do what we do. Almost without exception, it always comes back to one thing; our patients - more specifically, how we can provide them with the best possible primary care.

We are - as we have been for as long as I can remember - the most trusted professionals in the NHS. It is testament to the regard patients have for general practice that the pressure GP teams are under, highlighted in our Put Patients First campaign, has been given such a high media profile.

This is why it was so infuriating to read Alice Thomson's scathing attack on GPs in The Times as 'overpaid' and 'whingeing' and her criticism of our calls for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget by 2017.

She told us that we should be focusing our efforts on adapting to increasing demand and relieving pressure on other parts of the NHS - namely A&E - instead of asking for more resources.

Just how we can do either of these things, and continue to guarantee excellent care to our patients, without the resources we are demanding is beyond me.

General practice teams make 90% of NHS patient contacts for just 8.39% of the overall NHS budget - down from 10.33% a decade ago - and research by Deloitte predicts this share will fall to 7.29% by 2017/18, with disastrous consequences for our patients.

This is simply not safe for patient care, especially as GPs struggle to meet the increasing demand of our growing and ageing population, who, as I'm sure you have experienced, are increasingly presenting with multiple and chronic conditions.

It is simple. If we have more resources, we can do more for our patients and we can provide more care in the community, away from hospitals.

I urge you all to ask your patients to sign our petition, which, along with a new set of posters, will shortly be arriving in every GP surgery in the UK. I also urge you to engage with your practice's patient participation group. This is an excellent way of keeping abreast of the issues, clinical and otherwise, that really matter. Patients are, after all, our driving force and the reason we do what we do.

  • Dr Baker is a GP in Lincoln.

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