DAUK GPs highlight the crisis facing general practice in a series of broadcast interviews

Members of the Doctors’ Association UK’s GP committee have taken to the airwaves to highlight the growing crisis facing general practice.

Dr Sarah Jacques spoke to James O’Brien on his LBC programme about the pressures of being a GP.

Dr Ellen Welch, meanwhile, contributed to a feature on ITV about the financial pressures that GP practices are facing, particularly in the north west of England where she lives.

And Dr Steve Taylor was interviewed by Matthew Wright on the LBC breakfast programme about GPs in England rejecting Government changes to their contract in the BMA referendum.

Dr Jacques, who has recently joined the DAUK GP team, described to LBC listeners how general practice does around 90 per cent of the NHS work and receives just over five per cent of the budget.

She said demand on general practice had risen since the pandemic. Pre-Covid, patients would see their GP on average two to three times a year, but now, it’s seven times a year, she said.

Crisis in general practice

Dr Jacques added: “I was working 12 to 14 hours a day, every day, and barely went to the toilet because of the intensity with which we are working.

“People think GPs only have two sessions, morning and afternoon seeing patients, and that’s all we do.

“There are 101 other things that go on in general practice that means we do not stop.

“My pay would only cover about 40 hours a week and to keep things running you have to do those 15 to 20 hours extra each week – and most GPs are.

“Part-time GPs, that people keep having a go at, they’re actually doing 35 to 40 hours a week.

“This is the level of work we’re having to carry or everything would come to a standstill.

“An awful lot of what used to be done by secondary care, so in the hospitals, has now been passed into general practice.

“We are managing far more complex patients than we used to.

“The job has changed considerably. The funding has not flowed with it.

“We can’t say no because there’s a patient in the middle.”

Visit our Instagram page to listen again.

GP practices at risk

A feature on the ITV Borders evening news focused on a report that identified that 10 GP practices in Cumbria and Lancashire were at risk of immediate closure, with more than 100 others saying they were struggling financially.

Screengrab of Dr Ellen Welch talking on TV

Dr Ellen Welch is a GP and former co-chair of DAUK

Dr Welch, a former DAUK co-chair, said: We’re seeing 1.4m patients a day and we’re doing it with 2,000 fewer GPs than we had in 2015.

“People are burning out. People are retiring early. People are moving overseas. GPs have died by suicide.

“The pressures are immense and people are thinking I’ve had enough and I’m not going to do this anymore.”

Watch the feature again.

Meanwhile, Dr Taylor told listeners to the LBC breakfast show that the overwhelming vote by GPs to reject contract changes in the BMA referendum demonstrated their ‘strength of feeling’.

Of the 19,000 GPs and registrars who took part, 99.2 per cent voted no to accepting the national GP General Medical Services contract.

“That’s a pretty substantial vote,” he said. “It shows the strength of feeling.

“It was an indicative vote of how unhappy GPs are.

GP contract vote

Dr Taylor said the contract offer was below the rate of inflation and, for many practices, would not cover the running costs.

“It come on the back of cuts in real terms over the past seven or eight years of about 20 per cent,” he said.

“GP practices have been really struggling to fund the core services they provide.

“They’re doing an incredible job but the reward for that is below inflation financial input, which is incredible.”

Asked if GPs may strike over funding, Dr Taylor said: “GPs are small businesses in some ways, so you’re going to be striking against yourself.

“We have to find ways of making a noise. This vote was a good way of putting our hands up and saying ‘we’re sinking, can you help us?’.

“I’m struggling to see why the part of the NHS which is producing more is being given less.

“The other bits of the NHS have been given a minimum of six per cent this year. Consultants managed to get 10 per cent and GPs were thrown a bone.”

Listen again to the interview on our Instagram page.