Ministers must scrap plans for seven-day GP service, warns GPC chairman

The government will 'fail dismally' to recruit 5,000 new GPs and must ditch its 'surreal obsession' with seven-day-a-week access to GP services to prevent the collapse of existing practices, GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul will warn today.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: DH must drop seven-day GP plans (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: DH must drop seven-day GP plans (Photo: JH Lancy)

Addressing the annual LMCs conference in London on 21 May, Dr Nagpaul will urge ministers to ‘jettison political pipe dreams’.

His warning echoes comments to GPonline earlier this month, in which he called the government’s election pledges on GP access ‘unrealistic’.

General practice is facing a looming ‘catastrophe’ with one in three GPs set to retire in the next five years, Dr Nagpaul will say – a concern reflected in motions for debate at the conference.

GP workforce crisis

LMC leaders will warn today that general practice faces the greatest workforce crisis ‘since its inception’.

‘Being a GP has an unsustainable, punishing pace and intensity,’ the GPC chairman will tell LMC representatives at the conference.

‘We work flat out 12- to 14-hour days without a break. The irrefutable fact is that patient demand has absolutely outstripped the capacity of GP services, and we simply don't have the GPs, appointments, staff or space to meet these escalating demands.

‘Now the election is out of the way, I call upon the prime minister to jettison the political pipe dreams of tomorrow and get real about how we resource, resuscitate and rebuild general practice today. It’s absolutely pointless promising 5,000 extra GPs within this parliament if we lose 10,000 GPs retiring in the same period.

Seven-day general practice

‘Ministers must halt their surreal obsession for practices to open seven days when there aren’t the GPs to even cope with current demands.

‘The newly elected government must wake up to this alarming reality not only because it will fail dismally in its manifesto pledge for 5,000 extra GPs, but crucially because unless it turns this around we won’t have a comprehensive general practice service in parts of the UK.

‘We also need a national  programme of proactive support from government with dedicated resources for GPs and practices struggling under pressure right now.’

Read more: Dr Nagpaul's speech in full

* Click here for full LMC conference coverage from GPonline

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