Scathing criticism has been voiced by GP leaders towards NHS England for “repeatedly failing” to resolve the crisis of falling numbers in the profession while also being “deaf” to general practice needs, which have faced unprecedented strain due to the pandemic.
The BMA - which represents roughly 160,000 medical professionals - passed a motion of no confidence in the leadership of the NHS during an online meeting yesterday, Thursday, 20, May.
The orgainsation also claims the NHS sent a “tone deaf” letter to practices last week around face-to-face appointments and longer-term failure to support or recognise the efforts of the profession over the last 14 months.
Dr Richard Vautrey, a Leeds GP, has warned NHS England and the Government must “act now” to fix a broken system so that patients as well as doctors have a GP service that is “fit for purpose”.
The GP, who practises at Meanwood Health Centre and is also the BMA GP England committee chairman, said: “This motion sounds a much-needed warning bell, rung by GPs at the end of their tether, emotionally and physically exhausted by the past 14 months.
“Without doubt, the motivation for this comes entirely from the widespread anger, frustration and disappointment felt by tens of thousands of GPs about the cavalier ways in which they have been treated and badly let down by the Government and NHS England.
“These organisations have repeatedly failed to resolve the crisis of falling numbers of GPs who are trying to make inroads into a mammoth backlog of patients needing care, but also properly recognise and celebrate the incredible contribution of general practice throughout the pandemic and the vaccination programme.”
Dr Brian McGregor, a GP in York and the BMA Yorkshire regional council chair, added: “Today’s vote sends a clear message to NHS England that GPs feel completely let down by the way they’ve been treated, and that practices need support and recognition, not reprimanding.”
The motion of no confidence by the BMA also demands an explanation from the Government as to why the letter was sent last week.
Dr Vautrey, who has previously raised concerns that frustrated GPs are leaving the profession and trainees are discouraged from joining, said: “Last week’s woefully badly judged letter from NHS England was the final straw for many hard-working GPs who have gone above and beyond over the last year.
Dr McGregor added GPs in Yorkshire and across the country, have been working "incredibly hard" throughout the pandemic, from completely overhauling systems almost overnight 14 months ago.
He highlighted 60 per cent of appointments between March last year and March this year in Yorkshire and the Humber were delivered face-to-face.
“Staff are exhausted and so to receive a letter from NHS England last week not recognising these efforts and implying that we had somehow been neglecting our patients’ needs was a massive blow to morale when we’re already nearing rock bottom," said Dr McGregor.
Dr Vautrey added NHS England and the Government needed to address a current system that fails to consider the day-to-day reality in scores of doctors’ surgeries.
He said: “The onus is now on NHS England and Ministers to fix a broken system so that patients as well as doctors have a GP service that is fit for purpose.”
An NHS spokewoman said: “GPs have worked hard throughout the pandemic and are now pulling out all the stops to roll out the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history – providing vital protection to millions of people.
"NHS guidance, which makes sure that patients can access face to face appointments has been widely welcomed by patient groups and local health groups will now work with practices to make sure patients get services they need.”
The Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman confirmed to The Yorkshire Post to manage the increased demands placed on general practices, an additional £270m funding has been made available to ensure GPs can continue to support all patients.
The spokeswoman added: "GPs and their teams have played an enormous role throughout this pandemic and we are incredibly grateful for their tireless efforts not only in continuing to care for their patients both virtually and in person, but in offering vaccinations at over 1,000 GP clinics.
“As we build back better from the pandemic, we have committed to expanding the workforce and supporting general practices to deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year within the next five years.”
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