The Yorkshire Post says: A wake-up call over role of GPs. Misguided diagnosis over NHS

IT WOULD be remiss not to pay tribute to those NHS staff, and carers, who have treated the sick and vulnerable over the festive period. They represent the very best of Britain's public service ethos.

GPs need to remember that they are the frontline of the NHS.
GPs need to remember that they are the frontline of the NHS.

Less helpful is the latest intervention by the Royal College of GPs which seems oblivious to the fact that family doctors are the frontline of the National Health Service and should be more amenable to reform.

Now, in a bid to ease unprecedented demand for appointments, it is advising patients to establish if their ailment could improve with self-care, seek medical assistance from online resources or visit a local pharmacist.

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Three points. The vast majority of people seeking an appointment are not hypochondriacs or time-wasters; internet research and self-diagnosis is likely to increase anxiety unnecessarily and not everyone has access to a pharmacist who they can totally trust.

Instead of putting obstacles in the way of patients, GPs – in conjunction with the Department of Health, Leeds-based NHS England and the myriad bodies responsible for healthcare – should be looking at recruiting, and training, sufficient general practitioners to meet the needs of a growing and ageing population. Sticking plaster solutions, and an inadequate out-of-hours service, only intensify the many pressures confronting Yorkshire’s overstretched A&E units and hospitals.

For, while the shortage of doctors is, in fairness, the fault of successive governments that failed to plan for demographic changes, many of the current difficulties arise from the Blair government’s decision to give GPs a massive pay increase without any conditions attached about the provision of emergency cover. And, because of this, sympathy for the Royal College of GPs will be in short supply if its diagnosis is implemented.