NHS in England 'heading for the buffers', says GPC chair

Spiralling workload, NHS reorganisation, funding cuts and political interference have left the NHS in England 'heading for the buffers', GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman warned on Wednesday.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: NHS threat
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: NHS threat

In his final major speech as GPC chairman, Dr Buckman warned the BMA annual representative meeting that ‘GPs won’t hang around forever while competing politicians try to climb the greasy pole on doctors’ backs’.

GPs are working ‘harder and more effectively than ever before’, he will told the conference in Edinburgh.

But they are doing so amid attacks from politicians and in the wake of an imposed contract that will ‘pile more pressure on overstretched services’.

‘Practice funding will fall once more and there will be a new wave of oppressive box-ticking and micromanagement,’ Dr Buckman said. ‘Some of the changes have no basis in clinical evidence or, in some cases, reality.’

NHS reforms, as initially presented by the government, ‘sounded OK to many GPs’, Dr Buckman warned.

But he added: ‘I’m really worried that an alternative vision is taking hold, where competition rules the roost and tenders are won by the lowest bidder.

‘CCGs still have a chance to protect what is best about our NHS. But they must do this by working with all GPs in their area and with colleagues in their local hospitals, public health services, and with patients. They are the only hope of a safety net.’

Dr Buckman also hit out over problems with revalidation, locum funding, and warn that there is a ‘desperate need’ for more medical trainees to choose general practice.

Dr Buckman plans to return almost full-time to his practice in Barnet, north London. He will step down after 16 years on the GPC negotiating team.

Watch Dr Buckman's speech in full from 4pm

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