I started my term with the launch of 'Put Patients First: Back General Practice', our new campaign to secure more NHS funding for general practice.
An RCGP poll told us that 46% of GPs are working 11-hour days and 55% conduct 60 patient contacts in a single day. This is having a dramatic impact on patient care, with 80% of GPs surveyed saying they can no longer guarantee safe patient care - and more than 70% predicting longer waiting times in the next two years.
General practice carries out 90% of NHS contacts for just 8.4% of the NHS budget in the UK, a decrease of one-fifth since 2005. It is patients who are receiving the raw deal as GPs and practice staff struggle to meet increasing demand.
We're calling on governments across the UK for a modest increase of just one percentage point per year, taking us from 8.4% to 11% of the NHS budget by 2017. With this, we could transform patient care and offer shorter waiting times, more flexible opening hours and better continuity of care.
We've had some excellent media coverage and #putpatientsfirst is creating interesting debate. There are many ways to support the campaign:
- Visit www.rcgp.org.uk/campaigns and sign up.
- Write to your MP and encourage your patients to do the same. There is an excellent tool on the website to make this as easy as entering your postcode and clicking a couple of buttons.
- Share your stories with us. How have funding cuts affected your practice and your patients? What could you do with even a small increase in funding?
- Host a visit by an MP at your practice - details on how to set this up are on the website.
- Follow us on Twitter, retweet our posts and like us on Facebook.
I want to ensure you have the resources to meet the challenges ahead and provide the best possible care. To make this a reality, we need your support.
- Dr Baker is a GP in Lincoln.