Alastair Stewart: Sajid Javid must fix GP services

The Health Secretary and the BMA need to sit down and craft a new compact on General Practice


From services no longer offered, the growing difficulties in simply getting an appointment, to the rarity of seeing your doctor face to face, the problems with GP services remain.

Well, the British Medical Association begins its annual conference tomorrow. Ringing in their ears should be the concern expressed by Greater Manchester’s senior coroner Alison Mutch, that no fewer than five deaths had been contributed to by the lack of face to face GP consultations.

The Chair of the Royal College of GPs has admitted, as things stand, the service is not fit for purpose.There’s a drip feed of privatisation with US Health Care Companies buying GP practices and folk seeking help on hearing and sight being referred to other private businesses.

In the Telegraph yesterday, consultant surgeon Merion Thomas said GPs were increasingly running a business for their convenience rather to to suit their patients.

In his report to the BMA gathering, the Chair of the GP Committee, Richard Vautry, reflects on what a tough year it’s been with the coronavirus and how many GPs have faced growing abuse from patients. He talks of the pressures, the need for more GPs and the need for more money.

He concludes: “It’s governments who need to step up. It’s governments that need to prioritise general practice, fund general practice, defend general practice, celebrate general practice, and empower general practice. Our patients depend upon it and our workforce deserve it. They’ve made promises in the past. Now is the time to deliver."

Many also feel it is now time for GPs to deliver, too - the service they used to offer and the number of face to face visits they used to deliver. It takes two to tango though, so perhaps the Health & Care Secretary Sajid Javid and the BMA need to sit down and craft a new compact on General Practice - with patients to the fore.