Health Act is historic mistake, says RCGP chair

The Health and Social Care Act will be seen as an historic mistake in years to come, according to RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada.

Dr Clare Gerada: Health Act is historic mistake
Dr Clare Gerada: Health Act is historic mistake

‘In 10 years’ time, the Act will be viewed as one of the most historic misjudgments of all time,’ she told the RCGP annual conference 2013.

This is in spite of the RCGP successfully forcing the government to pause the process of the Act to include more focus on the interests of patients. Speaking at the conference in Harrogate on Thursday, Dr Gerada said the Act was not perfect but ‘a hell of a lot better than it could have been’.

The government had insisted that the reforms would result in better outcomes for patients, she said.

‘Only time will tell, but the early evidence suggests what we feared; chaos and confusion,’ said Dr Gerada.

She pointed to two RCGP polls that demonstrated GPs shared her concerns about general practice.

In the surveys, 85% of respondents said that general practice was in crisis while nearly half say they could no longer guarantee safe patient care.

‘We do 40-60 consultations every day in an 11-hour day in the consulting room. And most think that patients will have to wait longer to see us,’ said Dr Gerada.

The RCGP has launched a campaign for fairer funding, demanding at least 10% of the health budget – up from 9% - and calling for a minimum of 10,000 additional GPs. 

In spite of the problems, Dr Gerada said she felt positive.

‘I believe the future is bright for general practice. The simplest and best way to get a better health service is to invest in primary care.’

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