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26.04.17

RCGP: NHS must not be eclipsed by Brexit during election

Patient care cannot take a ‘back seat to Brexit’ as the UK’s politicians get on the campaign trail leading up to the snap general election on 8 June a key health organisation has stated.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has today called on politicians to use the election as a catalyst to fix the crisis in general practice and address a number of key concerns, including pressures arising from staff shortages and the status of EU workers in the health sector.

This follows Labour pledging to get rid of the 1% cap on NHS staff wages amongst a number of key promises to healthcare workers – policies that health organisations have given their support to.

To outline its key points, the RCGP has launched its own manifesto that points to the key problems that must be prioritised during the debates in the run up to the general election.

These points include, delivering the GP Forward View in England with an additional £2.4bn per year in general practice by 2020, and following through on the aim to employ at least 5,000 more full time GPs.  

The RCGP also reiterated a call made by the BMA to guarantee the work status of EU healthcare professionals already living in the UK, and extend the GP specialty training from three to four years to accommodate for the increasingly complex health needs of patients in primary care.

Finally, the doctors’ group also called for long-term measures to reduce indemnity costs to GPs, and the introduction of a ‘return to work’ scheme to boost the number of nurses and mental health therapists in practices.

Chair of the RCGP Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard warned that the future of general practice was too important to be “left hanging in the balance” while politicians concentrate solely on Brexit.

“General practice is on a knife edge,” she said. “GP workloads are spiralling and patients are facing longer waiting times for an appointment because we simply don't have the resources or enough doctors to provide safe care in the face of soaring patient demand.
 
“The majority of patient contact happens in general practice - over 1m people will receive care at their GP surgery today alone – but the slice of the NHS budget for general practice has been whittled away over successive years, resulting in just 8.79% being spent on our service in 2015/16.”
 
According to Prof Stokes-Lampard, the GP Forward view, which has now been running for a full year, was the “lifeline” that general practice needed, and urged politicians to use the “window of opportunity” provided by the general election to ensure pledges in the plan were acted on.

“Regardless of the result on 8 June, it is crucial that any future government delivers the investment and support our GPs so desperately need to provide the high-quality care that all our patients need and deserve,” she concluded.

“When general practice thrives, the NHS survives and we will be doing everything we can between now and 8 June to ensure that the collective voice of hardworking GPs and our patients is heard loud and clear by the political parties of all persuasions.”

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