Viewpoint: Dr Kailash Chand: BMA ready to work with Stevens to ease pressure on GPs

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens' interview on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show was plain speaking, coherent and gave the impression that he understands the challenges facing the NHS in general and general practice in particular writes BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand.

Dr Chand: 'We now need practical actions to follow his words.'
Dr Chand: 'We now need practical actions to follow his words.'

He conceded that, there had been systematic under-investment, in general practice relative to hospitals for at least a decade . It was encouraging to see a clear commitment to prevention and looking at ideas to combat the obesity crisis. I agree that the sustainability of the NHS and the economic prosperity of Britain all depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.

His promise to tackle the high cost of agency spending will need watching. For many NHS trusts previous efficiency drives resulted in a serious false economy in cutting back on staff only to pay so much more to these agencies. How Mr Stevens’ proposed £30bn efficiency savings in his Five Year Forward View could be achieved without cutting staff and their salaries is a big question.

We now need practical actions to follow his words 

I recently met Mr Stevens and thought he recognises the shocking crises in investment, workforce, and premises engulfing general practice. He is aware that primary care funding as a proportion of overall NHS spending has fallen but I thought he realises that though, money is vital, fundamental reform is needed to make the work environment more appealing with new care models. For the last 10 years the job of a GP has become unattractive, with a heavy workload and the stresses of dealing with seemingly constant criticism in the media. This can’t go on.

We now need practical actions to follow his words and we in the BMA stand ready to work together with him to deliver the commitments to ease the pressures on GPs as soon as possible and invest in improved services for patients.

  • Dr Chand is BMA deputy chairman

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