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General practice omission from political party manifestos ‘a travesty’, says IGPM

by Julie Griffiths
20 June 2024

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The Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) has written to the leaders of all UK political parties describing the failure to mention general practice in any of their manifestos as ‘a travesty’.

The letter said that the organisation had, ahead of the general election, eagerly awaited details of how each prospective Government would seek to ‘rectify the dire situation general practice funds itself in’.

 ‘We are overwhelmed and at the point of collapse,  it added.

Yet, having read the manifestos and plans from each party, the IGPM said it was ‘disappointed to see that this does not appear to be a priority for any party’.  

The letter, signed by IGPM directors Kay Keane, Robyn Clark and Nicola Davies, highlighted that plans have been mentioned to reform the dentistry contract as well as social and care and mental health services provision.

It said: ‘Whilst we applaud this and acknowledge that it is needed, to overlook general practice, where 90% of all NHS patient contacts take place each day, is a travesty.’

The IGPM  warned that as the gateway to access other parts of the health service, a collapse in general practice would mean ‘the NHS in general will be overwhelmed and collapse too’.

It said general practice received less than 7% of the NHS budget, despite being the most cost-effective, efficient and accessible part of the service. 

And the letter said that years of failure to engage with general practice and imposed GP contract changes have led to problems such as longer waits for appointments; staff paid minimum wage leading to higher turnover and problems recruiting; qualified GPs unemployed because practices cannot afford to employ them; reduced patient satisfaction; and actual pay cuts to the GP partners the service relies on (not just real terms cuts).

The letter warned went on to point out that the new 2024/25 GMS contract had been was rejected by 99.2% of respondents to a BMA referendum held for GP members in March. And warned  now that the BMA has opened a ballot on collective action by GP contractors and partners, disruption to services seemed likely. 

However, the IGPM said it is ready to work with whichever party is in Government, and alongside the BMA, ‘to create a funded, sustainable, efficient service for a healthier population’.

‘Our patients – your prospective constituents – deserve more.,’  it told the party leaders. ‘Please work with us to achieve this’.