MP briefing: our survey of nearly 900 GPs shows that over half of GPs not confident in the Government’s response as we head into the second wave

On Tuesday 3rd November the Doctors’ Association UK held a cross-party briefing for MPs and Peers regarding the crisis facing primary care.

Representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP heard evidence from our recent survey of nearly 900 frontline GPs about the state of primary care.

DAUK’s GP survey, included in the briefing, showed:

  • 55% of GPs responding to our survey are not confident that they will have access to adequate PPE in the second wave.
  • 52% stated that their current premises are not suitable to cater for COVID and non- COVID patients simultaneously.
  • 72% reported problems with patients not having access to Wifi or Mobile Data to conduct video consultations.
  • 42% stated that they had problems delivering the seasonal influenza vaccination programme – with 78% of those siting problems saying that limited access to the vaccine is their greatest problem.
  • 78% felt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health.
  • 48% of GPs responding to our survey felt unsupported by NHS England with only 1.6% saying that they feel well or very well supported by NHS England.

Today the Doctors’ Association UK has put forward 6 policy asks of MPs and Peers:

1) A commitment to urgent ring-fenced funding for primary care in line with that provided to acute trusts

2) An urgent review of the Public Health England PPE guidelines and revision to be in line with WHO recommendations and an urgent review of PPE stockpiles with provision for primary care

3) A urgent recognition of the issue of digital deprivation review of support needed for our most deprived areas to ensure that our most vulnerable patients are able to access

4) Ring-fenced funding for 24-hour mental health support for all NHS workers including primary care staff across the devolved nations 3rd November 2020

5) Urgent action on lack of access to flu vaccinations, and a cash injection to ensure GPs can carry out a COVID vaccination programme if and when required

6) MP support to combat the damaging narrative that GPs have not been open during the pandemic

Dr Nikki Kanani MBE, Medical Director for Primary Care NHS England and NHS Improvement said:

“The recent appointments in general practice figures show what many of us have known intimately throughout the pandemic – that our general practice teams (because it has been a team wide effort) have been working incredibly hard to rapidly adapt to how they offer care to keep patients and staff safe while maintaining services.

To ensure patients get access to healthcare advice safely, we have offered remote triage, with telephone, video and face to face consultations as clinically appropriate.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our staff and colleagues across primary care for everything they have done throughout the pandemic. We want to thank those working late into night – chasing advice, checking on shielded patients, reassuring your patients. We want to say thank you for the amazing work you’ve done in delivering flu vaccinations in new ways, in car parks, at weekends and in the pouring rain.

We know teams are feeling tired, and we know that they are doing the very best they can in an incredible difficult time – over the coming months know that you are valued and appreciated.”

Dr Vinesh Patel, GP Partner and DAUK committee member said:

“Following the incredible response to our GP survey, the DAUK GP committee took all your responses and comments to a roundtable meeting with MPs on 3rd of November.

We spoke to MPs about the important issues those working on the ground in primary care are facing such as reduced capacity to see ‘hot’ patients in the run-up to winter, the impact of digital deprivation on our patients, a rising workforce and its undeniable pressures on the mental health of primary care staff, as well as the disconnect between media messages and what is actually going on in primary care.

We are proud to be able to represent GP staff and have a direct line to parliament to raise these issues, and we have come forward from the meeting with action points to try and tackle these problems as we go on through the second wave.

Our main priority here at the DAUK GP committee was to find out exactly what issues our colleagues up and down the country working in primary care are facing, and to take those issues forward to the highest level that we can.

Following our roundtable meeting with MPs on Tuesday, we are proud to have been able to raise the issues highlighted by primary care staff respondents in our survey. We discussed issues such as the mental health of staff, rising workloads, the GP-bashing within the media and the importance of a primary care in this pandemic, and we are confident that we will be able to work together to tackle these issues going forward.”

Justin Madders MP, Shadow Health Minister and Labour MP said:

“We heard some very troubling stories from GPs today about just how stretched General Practice is, just like every part of the NHS. It is important that Government do not forget the absolutely vital role General Practice plays in keeping the NHS going and with a second wave now underway their concerns need to be listened to and acted upon.”

Caroline Lucas MP, said:

“The expertise, care and personal sacrifices of GPs during this crisis has been amazing. They embody all the values of the NHS and I will keep fighting in Parliament for the resources and support they need.”