Dr Maureen Baker: Why England needs 8,000 more GPs

It is party conference season and we are also looking forward to the RCGP's annual national conference next week in Liverpool.

During this time, we are trying our best to influence politicians and decision-makers from all of the major parties to listen to what the RCGP is calling for - and to deliver what our profession and our patients need.

Our manifesto is a 10-point plan to empower general practice to transform patient care - a 'new deal' for general practice and for patients.

This is what our patients want - we delivered nearly 300,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, all backing our call for general practice to receive 11% of the overall NHS budget by 2017.

Despite our intense and increasing workloads and despite finding it more and more difficult to make a GP appointment, owing to our decreasing resources, patients still regard us as the most trusted healthcare professionals in the UK and we want it to stay that way.

We need at least 8,000 more GPs in England alone by 2020. We want more nurses and other practice staff who are essential for the work we do. We want it to be easier for trained GPs to return to our profession after a career break. And we want incentives for medical graduates to choose general practice over other specialties.

Other key calls in our manifesto include:

  • More support for practices working together in federations to maximise the breadth of the services they provide for patients.
  • Promotion of GP-led integrated models of care in the community, to care for patients' physical and mental health, as well as social needs.
  • A guarantee that no practice will close and no patient will lose out because of cuts in general practice funding.
  • Keeping general practice free at the point of need, for whoever needs it.

We are also advocating against any further major top-down organisational reforms of the NHS, which only serve to destabilise it and divert money away from patient care. Being a GP is tough right now, but I hope our manifesto will convince the politicians to give us the support we need.

  • Dr Baker is a GP in Lincoln.

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