RCGP sets out 10-point plan to save general practice

A 10-point RCGP manifesto published ahead of the 2015 general election has called for 8,000 new GPs - in line with a pledge by Labour leader Ed Miliband - and a sharp rise in GP funding as part of a 'new deal' for general practice.

Dr Maureen Baker: RCGP manifesto
Dr Maureen Baker: RCGP manifesto

The manifesto, launched at the Labour party conference in Manchester, sets out 10 key points:

  • Increase investment in general practice.

  • Launch an action plan to increase the number of GPs.

  • Back general practice to provide care at scale.

  • Support patients with multiple conditions through integrated care.

  • No major top-down reform.

  • Improve access for safe care.

  • Keep GP services free at the point of access.

  • Cut red tape and artificial targets.

  • Invest in premises so they are fit for purpose.

  • Provide better support for existing workforce.

The manifesto demands a rise in the share of the NHS budget spent on general practice from 8% now to 11% by 2017.

8,000 more GPs

It calls for an extra 8,000 GPs by 2020 – the end of the next parliament, and backs increases in community nursing staff that support practices.

The RCGP calls for financial incentives and other mechanisms to increase the proportion of medical graduates choosing careers in general practice, and backs increased flexibilities for GPs looking to return to work after career breaks.

GPs should be supported to work in federations, and to work in GP-led multidisciplinary teams to improve care for patients with multiple long-term conditions, the manifesto says.

RCGP leaders also call for guarantees that no practices will close as a result of funding cuts, and for an assessment of whether further cuts to the QOF could reduce the red tape that GPs face.

Despite clear similarities with Labour policy on calls for an increase in GP numbers, the RCGP manifesto appears to reject Labour plans to reinstate 48-hour GP access targets.

No artificial access targets

The manifesto says: ‘Do not impose artificial access targets for GPs – which are not adequately funded, could distort patient care, and cannot be delivered.’

A concluding statement in the manifesto reads: ‘The ability of general practice to carry on delivering effective patient care in the community is now at risk.

‘While it conducts 90% of all patient contacts in the NHS, general practice in England is being given a rapidly diminishing share of the NHS budget – now receiving a record low proportion of just 8.5%.

‘The unsustainable volume of work now being experienced by GPs has made the vast majority of them worry that they will miss something serious in a patient.

‘As the general practice crisis deepens, increasing numbers of patients are inevitably seeking medical attention in secondary care – heaping further pressure on our hospitals.

‘There has to be a better way.’

Read the RCGP manifesto in full

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