Un­der­fund­ing leaves tra­di­tional GPS in par­lous state

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Henry Bod­kin

THE tra­di­tional fam­ily doc­tor risks ex­tinc­tion due to the num­ber of burntout GPS flee­ing the pro­fes­sion, Jeremy Hunt has warned.

The Health Sec­re­tary said decades of un­der­fund­ing meant that the “magic” of see­ing a doc­tor who re­mem­bered their pa­tients’ names was un­der threat.

Re­it­er­at­ing a prom­ise to pro­vide an ex­tra 5,000 prac­ti­tion­ers by 2021, he also chal­lenged the pro­fes­sion to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and waste less time treat­ing peo­ple not ill enough for a GP.

Ad­dress­ing the Royal Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers’ an­nual con­fer­ence, Mr Hunt said: “For me, the best thing about the NHS is hav­ing a doc­tor who knows you and your fam­ily.” But he added: “The truth is that be­cause we have un­der-in­vested in gen­eral prac­tice over decades we have made it much, much harder for you to de­liver the con­ti­nu­ity of care that I think is part of the magic of gen­eral prac­tice.”

More GPS are leav­ing the pro­fes­sion than at any time since 1998, with 7,000 cur­rent prac­ti­tion­ers in­di­cat­ing that they are plan­ning to quit, said Mr Hunt. His warn­ing fol­lowed the an­nounce­ment of a pack­age of £20,000 “golden hel­los” to en­tice GPS to work in parts of the coun­try that are strug­gling most.

The Gov­ern­ment has pledged to boost the num­ber of fam­ily doc­tors in Eng­land from around 34,500 to 39,500 within the next three years, but med­i­cal lead­ers have ques­tioned the fea­si­bil­ity of this goal. Ap­prox­i­mately one in five pa­tients wait at least a week to see a GP, a 56 per cent rise in the past five years, while one in eight GP posts are empty.

“Too many GPS are knack­ered and at the end of their tether,” said Mr Hunt.

GP part­ners earn more than £100,000, on av­er­age, but one in five are over the age of 55, with grow­ing num­bers re­tir­ing early.

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