LMC Conference 2014: GP leaders urge governments to tackle workload crisis

GPs from across the UK kicked off the annual LMCs conference in York by demanding governments urgently resolve the workload crisis in general practice, warning services are in danger of collapse.

LMC conference: GPs warn over workload threat (Photo: Pete Hill)
LMC conference: GPs warn over workload threat (Photo: Pete Hill)

A motion, proposed by Morgannwg LMC and passed unanimously by LMC representatives, warned patient safety was at risk.

Dr Charles Danino from Morgannwg told the conference general practice was fast reaching a tipping point where it is unsafe for patients.

A medical student at his practice was ‘gobsmacked by the volume and complexity of the work that we embrace on a day-to-day basis’, Dr Danino told the conference.

‘He had considered a career in primary care. I think he is rethinking that.’

Dr Danino said two of his partners over the last five years had had to take a year off each because of work-related stress.

GP registrar Dr Clare Sieber of Norfolk and Waveney LMC said registrar colleagues had ‘grave concerns’ about their future careers, were ‘holding back from partnership posts’ and ‘seeking refuge in sunnier climbs’.

LMC representatives passed all parts of the motion unanimously.

The conference backed three parts of a second motion asking all UK governments to ‘recognise that there is a limit to the safe workload’ and calling for the right for GPs to close their lists, but rejected a clause asking the GPC to define what areas of practice could be rejected to maintain safety.

Proposing the motion for Bro Taf LMC Dr Kay Saunders said it must be recognised there is a safe workload capacity each GP and practice can sustain.

‘It is for us to decide when that safe capacity has been reached,' she said. ‘I am the one with my neck on the block. I am the one responsible. I must not allow myself to put my patients at risk.’

Several LMC representatives spoke against parts of the motion.

Dr Steve Jones from Cambridgeshire said the motion was ‘very dangerous’ for general practice and could have unintended consequences.

‘It would be almost impossible to define a universally applicable safe workload,' he said.

Dr Jones said defining safe workload could lead to enhanced services, and their funding, being lost, and threaten GPs' independence.

LMCs voted to reject a clause calling for a definition of which elements of workload should be relinquished.

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