General practice is in crisis, warns LMC letter to patients

Coventry LMC has written to patients across the city warning that general practice is in crisis, setting out pressures on the profession in a bid to explain why patients are waiting longer for appointments.

Dr Jamie Macpherson: warning to patients over GP crisis
Dr Jamie Macpherson: warning to patients over GP crisis

The LMC has written to patients and provided leaflets for practices to hand out to help them explain to patients why they are struggling to provide services.

Coventry LMC secretary Dr Jamie Macpherson said: 'Coventry LMC has taken this unique step of providing practices with leaflets, as GPs are frustrated that they can no longer provide the services that patients need.'

LMC chairman Dr Pete Whidborne said: 'I am saddened when local GPs tell me they are no longer able to meet the needs of their patients. I was recently contacted by Dr KumKum Mishra, whose practice serves a deprived area of Coventry. She explained that, due to high workload and a lack of GPs available, she has been unable to fill a vacant GP position making her feel that she is letting her patients down.'

Seven-day GP service

The LMC warned that government plans for seven-day GP services would pile further pressure on overstretched practices.

GPC member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni told GPonline: 'Up until now the conversations have been between the GPC and the government about the state of general practice. This LMC is now taking it into its own hands to communicate with patients.

'When they realise how bad the situation is, the conversation starts changing. The tone of this letter is clear - practices are not turning anyone away, but the system is under pressure, and things you expected to happen immediately a few years ago may take a bit longer.

'I hope patients read this, go and contact their MP and ask uncomfortable questions that they have been ducking so far. I hope then that the government will realise what they need to do for GPs and start backing the profession.'

Read the Coventry LMC letter in full:

Dear Patient

General Practice in Crisis: A Statement from Coventry Local Medical Committee.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Coventry GPs are aware that some patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get the appointments and services they need from us, and feel you should be made aware of the reasons.

Over the past few years, successive governments have reduced the investment in general practice from around 10% of the NHS budget to nearer 7%. In spite of this reduction in funding we still provide 90% of consultations carried out in the NHS.

There is access to GP services 24 hours, 7 days a week and the demand to see GPs is rising dramatically. There are currently 340m GP consultations a year, an increase of 40m in the last five years. This has not been matched by an increase in GP and staff numbers or an expansion in the infrastructure.

Added to this we are expected to take on more and more work previously carried out in hospitals, and are obliged to attend meetings with the CCGs, NHS England management and spend hours preparing for and meeting the CQC. All of these mean less time to see our patients. In addition, we are faced with huge difficulties in recruiting new doctors and nurses to work in general practice.

Currently there is a shortfall of about 10,000 GPs across the country. It is impossible to see how this shortfall can be addressed when it takes a minimum of 10 years to train a GP. In short general practice is in crisis. We simply want you to know that we are aware of the problems you have accessing some services and that we are working as hard as we can to provide those services. We hope you will bear with us as we strive to continue to provide quality general practice across the City.

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