Speaking in a debate at the National Association of Primary Care's Best Practice conference on whether general practice needed 10,000 extra GPs, Dr Baker said the politicians have realised the importance of primary care, and the medical profession must take note.
‘There is sometimes a view among some undergraduates and trainee doctors, often young men, that general practice is not sufficiently intellectually challenging,’ she said.
‘I would say it is intellectually challenging enough for me. As care is shifted from hospitals to primary care, I would say general practice is the best job in medicine in the early 21st century.’
New GPs take time
Dr Baker told the conference that significant extra numbers of GPs could only come on stream in three or four years’ time at the earliest, and in the meantime new roles for other health professionals could be created to fill the gap.
Royal College of Nursing director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies said there was a similar prejudice against working in general practice in nursing.
‘What is needed is a full care pathway for nurses working in primary care, from healthcare assistants all the way through to consultant nurses with full prescribing rights,’ she said.
‘We need to make primary care the place where nurses want to work.’
Rethink primary care roles
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni told the conference that the priority should be to consider how work can be done differently in primary care, then establish how that can be achieved, and only then determine exactly how many GPs are needed.
‘Perversely we have too many pharmacists at the moment,’ he said.
‘People are qualifying and then not being able to get a job, but with some training they could easily provide support for GPs, such as in prescribing.’
Dr Baker agreed with the other speakers but insisted more GPs were required.
‘I say yes to all those proposals but the big question is whether the resources are there to develop all these roles,’ she said.
‘And I still say we need 10,000 more GPs by 2020.’