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More than 10,000 patients and GPs sign petition for better funding

by Jess Hacker
17 September 2021

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As many as 10,000 patients and GPs have signed a petition calling for the Government to address the GP retention crisis and provide better funding.

The petition, which was opened to the public last month by the BMA, set out in clear terms the scale of the workforce crisis and the impact this has on patient care.

It read: ‘With the number of GPs falling (due to lack of recruitment and retention) whilst the population rises, demands on GPs are higher than ever. There are millions of patients whose treatment has been delayed due to the pandemic, more tests to administer and additional bureaucracy. GP workload is becoming unmanageable.’

GP turnover has been in steady decline over the last decade, with a recent study indicating that the proportion of practices with high turnover ‘almost doubled from 14% in 2009, to 27% in 2019’.

This comes two months after Health Education England (HEE) was commissioned to review the long-term workforce strategy for health and social care sector, building on the NHS People Plan, and renewing and updating the existing long term strategic framework.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said that there should be no need to petition for ‘a properly funded GP service’ in England in the first place.

‘GPs and their teams have continued to see patients face-to-face throughout the pandemic, but this has been made increasingly hard – not just because of the pandemic but also because of rocketing workloads, chronic staff shortages and a lack of funding,’ he said.

‘The Government has currently put us in a position where we can no longer guarantee that, which isn’t fair to the exhausted staff who continue to go above and beyond, or, most importantly, to our patients to whom we have a duty of care.’

Three-quarters of practice staff reported receiving verbal abuse from patients during the Covid-19 campaign, with some GPs concerned that this may spike again during the booster and flu programmes.

The NHS Confederation today (17 September) told Management in Practice that these campaigns ‘will add to this pressure but we know that primary care teams will continue to step up and deliver for their patients and the public’.

Its director of primary care, Ruth Rankine, said that practice staff must be protected from abuse to ‘ensure that they are in the best position possible to manage the different demands on them over the coming months’.