Special LMCs conference: RCGP demands emergency support for GPs and CQC inspection freeze

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker will today demand an emergency package of support for general practice and a suspension of CQC inspections, warning that the profession is at a 'major crossroads' and facing a deepening crisis.

Addressing the BMA's special LMCs conference on 30 January, Dr Baker will warn that any threat to general practice is a threat to the sustainability of the NHS as a whole.

A combination of soaring GP workload and a 'scandalous' decline in funding over the past decade have left the profession on the brink and headed for disaster, she will tell LMC leaders.

Just days after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens hinted that a 2016/17 GP contract deal was close as part of a 'wide-ranging' funding package for primary care, Dr Baker will demand a range of emergency support measures to help struggling practices with staff, premises and other problems.

Special LMCs conference: full coverage

The RCGP chairwoman will also call for an end to 'unrealistic promises to patients that they will be able to access their GP seven days a week, 365 days a year'.

Emergency support measures that Dr Baker will demand include:

  • 'Resilience teams' that can be parachuted into practices to plug staff gaps.

  • A scheme to bring nurses who have left the workforce back into general practice, creating at least 500 new practice nurses over the next year.

  • Action on 'out of control' medical indemnity costs.

  • Grants to help practices upgrade IT infrastructure.

  • Mental health workers based in practices for real-time referrals and support.

  • Investment in the GP out-of-hours service.

'We believe measures such as these,' Dr Baker will say, 'backed by significant resources – are the absolute minimum requirement to give us our first steps down the right road. It would also send out a clear signal that things are going to change. That general practice has a future that will attract young medical graduates looking for a rewarding career in medicine.'

The RCGP chairwoman will tell the conference that general practice faces a 'make or break moment' for its future.

Future of general practice

'I know that in many respects things look pretty bleak at the moment,' she is expected to say. 'I'm a big fan of the Lord of the Rings films, and for me, where general practice is at the moment is like that scene where Sam and Frodo have to take the long road through the Land of Mordor to get to Mount Doom.

'But we know it doesn’t need to be like this. Fundamentally, the NHS needs a strong thriving general practice in order to survive. We can, and we will, work together to fight for our profession and for patients.

'I think we can definitely take some inspiration from the way our junior doctor colleagues have campaigned so passionately for their cause, using principled, evidence-based arguments.

'We can, and we must, hold those in power to account and ensure they keep their promises to protect general practice as the jewel in the crown of the NHS.

'In my final year in office I am going to do everything I can to fearlessly drive forward our campaign to ensure we move on from this crossroads and get general practice back on the right road.'

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