Guest Opinion - Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: GPs must deliver their own 2014 vision

2013 was a difficult year for general practice.

We began with the countdown to the government's imposed changes to the GP contract in April, which ushered in what seemed to be a new era of politically driven micromanagement.

This came at a time when a prolonged period of rising workload and falling resources was pushing practices to breaking point, a situation not helped by the collapse of NHS 111 and the upheaval caused by the birth of CCGs.

Accompanying these challenges was a steady build-up of ill-informed criticism of general practice for supposedly placing pressure on emergency care.

But while 2013 was a difficult year, at the tail end of a tough 12 months, we began to see chinks of light. The successful conclusion to the GP contract talks provided a deal that rowed back the nonsense imposed by ministers and presented opportunities for us to strengthen the way we deliver care to vulnerable patients.

2014 must be the year when general practice delivers its own vision for the future. The GPC's consultation document, Developing General Practice today: Providing healthcare solutions for the future, explores potential options.

Although IT, service redesign and federations offer some solutions, the bottom line is, we need more GPs, nurses and community staff, more premises and a significant shift of resources to general practice.

We also need a national strategy enabling patients to self-care and to use NHS resources appropriately if we are to cope with increasing demands and workload.

The government needs to listen. If it continues with its anytime, anyplace access policy, it risks the quality and continuity of care for those who need us most, and the very thing that makes general practice work, the GPs.

No GP expects 2014 to be easy. However, this year we must be ready to rise to the challenge - we need to stand collectively, build on any positive opportunities and take our vision for the future of general practice to the public and the government.

  • Dr McCarron-Nash is a GPC negotiator and a GP in Truro, Cornwall.

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