GP-patient relationship faces 'unprecedented strain'

UK GPs must fight to preserve the doctor-patient relationship in the face of rising pressure from workload, cuts and reforms, candidates in RCGP council elections have warned.

RCGP elections: candidates warn of pressure on GPs
RCGP elections: candidates warn of pressure on GPs

Six RCGP council posts are up for grabs in elections that run until noon on 31 May, and statements from 18 candidates reveal many believe the profession is close to breaking point.

Tick-box medicine, rising workload, reforms and a dwindling workforce are putting ‘unprecendented’ strain on GPs’ ability to maintain their relationship with patients, most of the candidates warn.

Dr Maureen Baker was confirmed earlier this month as chair-elect of the RCGP. She will become the second woman in a row to lead the RCGP. However, just three of the candidates for council seats are women.

Northampton GP Professor Simon Gregory warned of the 'struggle to provide high-quality patient centred general practice with ever increasing demand and expectation'. He said consultation rates have doubled in his 18 years in the profession, while complexity of cases has more than doubled.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey echoed these concerns, warning that general practice is ‘at a crossroads’ and that constant reform ‘often makes it harder rather than easier’ to provide top quality care to patients.

GP trainer Dr Martin Brunet said the doctor-patient relationship is ‘at the heart of UK general practice’. But he warned: ‘This relationship is under unprecedented pressure at the current time as political priorities, the interests of big business and a culture of tick-box and target-driven medicine all seek to invade the consulting room’.

London GP Dr Jonathan Tomlinson’s statement warns GPs are ‘being forced to act as merchants of care, brokers of medicine in a legalistic bazaar’ and that competition is placing an ‘intolerable strain’ on the ‘fraternity, sorority and patient trust on which we depend’.

Dr Margaret McCartney said simply: ‘Over the last decade, the GP contract has introduced a third person into the consulting room – the health secretary.’ She warned that political interference in GPs daily work has become ‘burdensome and harmful’.

Many of the candidates emphasise the need to protect traditional general practice, the partnership model, continuity of care and patients in the face of rising pressure on the profession.

The full list of candidates is: Dr Martin Brunet, Dr Una Coales, Dr John Cosgrove, Dr Peter Deveson, Prof Simon Gregory, Dr Jaspreet Grewal, Dr Alan Hassey, Professor Bill Irish, Dr Chandra Kanneganti, Dr Terry Kemple, Dr Margaret McCartney, Professor Nigel Mathers, Dr Dom Patterson, Dr Ben Riley, Professor Nigel Sparrow, Dr Stuart Sutton, Dr Jonathan Tomlinson and Dr Richard Vautrey.

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