List closure 'only option' for rising number of GPs, warns BMA ahead of 2017 budget

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul highlighted the crisis facing general practice in a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond as the government prepares to unveil its budget plans on Wednesday.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)

North London GP Dr Nagpaul warned the chancellor that numbers of patients waiting two weeks or more for a GP appointment had risen by more than 7% in the past five years, while eight in 10 GPs now say rising demand has left them unable to provide safe, high quality care.

Increasing numbers of GP practices were now taking the 'only course of action left to them' and closing their lists to new patients, he said. Dr Nagpaul highlighted findings from the GPC ballot earlier this year that found 54% of GPs were prepared to take part in a mass closure of patient lists as a form of industrial action.

The BMA chair voiced concern about the GP crisis in a letter demanding significant new investment in the NHS. Dr Nagpaul warned the chancellor that the NHS was 'simply not coping with unprecedented patient demand against a backdrop of crippling financial restraint'.

Read more: £3.4bn GP funding shortfall

The BMA chair's comments echo GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey's warning at the first England LMCs conference earlier this month that funding currently on offer for general practice was 'nowhere near enough'. Dr Vautrey warned that even if all GP Forward View funding materialised, general practice would be £3.4bn short of the funding it needed by 2020/21.

Dr Nagpaul's letter warns that the UK is spending 'significantly less on its health services as a proportion of GDP than that of other similar leading European countries'.

'The BMA is therefore calling for an overall increase in UK health spending to match that of other leading European economies; in 2015 this could have meant an increase from 9.8% of GDP being spent on health, to 10.4% or £10.3bn.

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