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A conference is to be held in London by the British Medical Association to debate the possibility of staging walk-outs by GPs in dispute over their increasing workload.
Claims from the National Health Service state that as many as one in four appointments each day are a waste of time. Doctors voted unanimously to abandon a Government pledge to offer all patients GP appointments seven days a week, by 2020, describing it as a “political push for the unachievable”.
GP union leaders encourage doctors to tell patients to only use their family doctor if they really need to. However, patients’ groups say the proposals are ‘insulting’ to the general public who should not be deterred from seeking help.
Controversially, health officials plan to start a national campaign from September, to encourage patients to “self-care” when possible and make more use of pharmacies and online advice.
Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association stated “It is insulting for patients to be told by GPs to reconsider visiting their local practice. GPs are a public service funded by taxpayers.”
Increased pressures and high demand for GPs has lead to ‘impossible’ workloads. In his speech during the debate, Dr Nagpaul said the mass resignation of GPs is not a threat, but an "impending reality", with two in five doctors planning to quit within five years.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul told 400 doctors that too much time was being wasted by patients who did not need medical advice or could have been seen by another professional.
He said the campaign should be very clear in warning patients to keep away from GPs if they could look after themselves, or go elsewhere for help.
The conference over staging walk-outs will vote on whether to ballot GPs on industrial action, in protest at the NHS plan for GPs, which they say is not an “adequate response” to the crisis in general practice.
What do you think?

With staff shortages on the rise, and posts being left vacant, research has been carried out by the Centre for Health Economics to find more about our GP’s education in the UK.
Based on the research results, less than a third (31%) of current UK-educated GP trainees attended private schools, the smallest representation of all medical specialties assessed. This compares to nearly half of all surgical trainees (44%), with 37% of medical trainees overall being privately educated.
69% of GP trainees are female, and the workforce looks to become more female-dominated in the coming years


The growing shortage of GPs in the UK has become more apparent as new figures surface. The number of vacancies for GPs has increased by nearly 50% in the last year, and with almost one in ten vacant positions for GP partners left unfilled, it begs the question as to why?
The number of positions being left vacant has quadrupled in the last four years, and with the Conservatives’ pledge to improve accessibility to GPs across the country, a number of factors should be considered as to how this could be met in the current shortage.
Pulse Magazine carried out the survey to try and bridge the gap between politicians’ policies and GPs’ opinions on the subject.
Family doctors answered that they’d more than likely take early retirement, or consider emigration due to the increasing demand from the ageing population putting an ever-increasing strain on their workloads. A BBC poll found that only 6% of GPs plan to work in the profession until the age of 65.
With one in five practises saying it takes at least a year to fill one GP vacancy, the need for ready-made doctors willing to work for longer becomes more apparent. 

The NHS in England is to allocate £112m of additional funding to generate an additional 1,500 Pharmacist jobs in GP practices by 2020, according to a recent announcement made by the Government.

The announcement forms part of theGovernment’s plan to invest a further £2.4bn a year in GP services for 2020 (see our recent blog -

The plan comes 5-months after the Government announced planned cuts to the pharmacy contract of £170m, which potentially could lead to the closure of up to 3,000 pharmacies up and down the Country.

The ‘General Practice Forward View’, published on April 21st 2016, stated that the success of general practices in the future would rely on the expansion of the wider non-medical workforce, including pharmacists, nurses and practice managers, to a minimum of 5,000 extra staff by 2020.

The NHS England wants to expand pharmacists working in GP surgeries to “enable every practice to access a clinical pharmacist across a minimum population on average of 30,000 – leading to an extra 1,500 pharmacists in general practice”.

The plan also states that the NHS England will open up the clinical pharmacist training programme to practices that have directly funded a clinical pharmacist

Ian Strachan, the chair of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), stated: “Sustained investment in local pharmacies would be a far bigger stride towards opening up access and creating a world class health service.”

He added: “The community pharmacy network has to remain the core of pharmaceutical care in the community. There is already a highly qualified workforce in local pharmacies right across the country and a well-established infrastructure for delivering care in those settings. Community pharmacies are a ready-made solution on the health service front line, close to where people live, work and shop.”

Watch this space for future developments.

The details of a five-year plan have been revealed by the NHS, to help GP surgeries to "get back on their feet" as part of a push to improve GP services in England.

A sizable investment is being made into GP services, in the region of £2.4 Billion over the next four years, representing an increase in funding of 14%, paying for 5,000 more GPs and additional staff, over the period.

The NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens stated:

"GPs are by far the largest branch of British medicine and as a recent British Medical Journal headline put it - if general practice fails, the whole NHS fails.

"So if anyone 10 years ago had said, 'Here's what the NHS should now do - cut the share of funding for primary care and grow the number of hospital specialists three times faster than GPs,' they'd have been laughed out of court.

"But looking back over a decade that's exactly what's happened. Now we need to act and this plan sets out exactly how."

The extra money, coming from the increases in the total NHS budget, will bring the total spent on general practice to £12bn by 2020.

The funds will help back 5,000 extra GPs and 5,000 more non-medical staff, including nurses, therapists and pharmacists, that were underlined in the Government’s election manifesto.

Alongside the funding, the strategy also includes:

-          extra support for GPs suffering stress and burnout
-          a relaxation of rules to make it easier to renovate premises or build new ones
-          a campaign to encourage junior doctors to become GPs
-          the recruitment of 500 doctors from abroad to boost numbers

The announcement was greeted warmly by the profession. Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, stated:

"This is the most significant announcement for our profession since the 1960s.

"For too long GPs have been undervalued, underfunded, and not recognised for the essential role we play. We genuinely hope that today's news marks a turning point for general practice."

This is undoubtedly good news for the profession, praised by all parties as a step in the right directions.

GPs in Crisis?

Increasingly the GP world in the UK is being referred to as one in crisis in recent years. Practices across the nation are seeing an estimated 80 additional patients per week due to "unsustainable" pressure fueled in part by immigration and by an ever increasing ageing UK population, a new study by The Lancet has shown.

To put this into context, on average, over the last 7 years, it is estimated that the GP workload has increased by some 16%, with some practices approaching 200 consultations daily. This is clearly putting a strain on services.

A new study, based on an analysis of over 100 million GP and nurse sessions at 400 general practices in England, found that the number of weekly consultations per practice had risen from 902 in 2007 to 984 in 2014.

This is clearly a considerable increase.

Professor Richard Hobbs, lead author at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care and Health Sciences at the University of Oxford stated:

 “For many years, doctors and nurses have reported increasing workloads, but for the first time, we are able to provide objective data that this is indeed the case”

“The demands on general practice have increased substantially over the past seven years. Recruitment of new GPs and nurses remains low while the population in England steadily increases.

Commenting on the study, Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "This report should ring alarm bells for the Government and spur ministers into action to address the crisis in general practice before it’s too late.

"For too long GPs have been expected to do more and more for less and less and this perfect storm of rising demand, plummeting resources and not enough GPs can no longer be no longer be ignored.
Are you an over-worked GP? Is the situation getting better or worse?

The Royal College of General Practitioners has launched an advertising campaign to urge General Practitioners to take more breaks for the safety of patients.

The campaign, called ‘Put Patients First’, is designed to push patient’s safety, to counter increasing rates of fatigue amongst GPs.

The campaign comes off a recent RCGP discussion paper highlighting the level of growing fatigue amongst GPs as a threat to patients.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP Chair stated: “Most people would not get on a plane flown by a tired pilot, or jump on a train where they knew the driver had already worked a 12-hour day - and most patients would not choose to be the 40th or 50th patient at the end of a long day in surgery.

“Rising patient demand, excessive bureaucracy, fewer resources, and a chronic shortage of GPs are resulting in worn-out doctors, some of whom are so fatigued that they can no longer guarantee to provide safe care to patients. GPs are currently seeing too many patients a day to be safe and at the end of a long day in clinic, we will still have a mountain of paperwork to get through.”

Are you an overworked GP? Let us know

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