The British Medical Association (BMA) has accused the government of making GPs scapegoats for the pressure on England’s A&E departments.
The government has said that much of the current crisis is due to GP surgeries not being open for long enough, and not operating a seven-day service.
This has been rubbished by Labour and the BMA.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the BMA said, “We have got a very serious problem that we don’t have the capacity in general practice.
“The crisis in the NHS won’t be solved by scapegoating or deflecting blame on to GPs.”
He went on to say that a third of GP practices could not fill vacancies, while 8 in 10 said they were unable to provide care that is safe. He pointed out that A&E pressures were down to very ill patients and not lack of access to GPs. The problem was down to under-resourcing.
“Under-funded and under-resourced for a decade”
Chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said the “whole of general practice and primary care” was “close to the precipice” after being “under-funded and under-resourced for a decade”.
The government said, “Most GPs do a fantastic job, and have their patients’ interests firmly at heart,” it said.
“However, it is increasingly clear that a large number of surgeries are not providing the access that patients need – and that patients are suffering as a result because they are then forced to go to A&E to seek care.
“It’s also bad for hospitals, who then face additional pressure on their services.”
“The problem here is actually a shortage of GPs”
One GP, Dr Matt Owen said, “I would say demand for a seven-day week is actually not high.
“I do work extended hours on the weekend. On Sundays, it is not uncommon to be sat in my consultation room for 12 hours (08:00-20:00) with as few as five patients for the whole day.
“However, there can be a shortage of appointments and access to the GP Monday to Friday.
“The problem here is actually a shortage of GPs. No-one wants to be a GP because GPs are overworked, overused and over-regulated.”