GP crisis: GPs must be included in decisions affecting general practice

DAUK’s Dr Steve Taylor says GPs need to be listened to and involved in providing the solutions to the crisis facing general practice.

Dr Taylor, GP spokesperson for the Doctors’ Association UK, was commenting after a debate on the BBC’s Question Time about so-called ‘sick note culture’.

The discussion included an acknowledgment by Wes Streeting, the Shadow Health Secretary, of the work load pressures facing GPs

Dr Taylor said: “We welcome Wes Streeting’s recognition of the increased workload for GPs, fewer practicing GPs and that they are not the problem for the so called ‘sick note’ culture.

“DAUK agrees with Mr Streeting that the issues are with patients waiting, with mental health services being under resourced, and with GP practices being overwhelmed with more work and fewer GPs.

“It’s important that GPs are fully involved in helping provide the solutions, listened to, and resourced to provide what is needed to support patient care.

Photo of the Question Time panel
BBC’s Question Time discussed the pressures facing GPs

“We don’t agree that GPs are ‘dishing out’ sick notes. GPs are often best placed to understand the full circumstances of a person sat before them or on the phone.

“Reform of sick notes could be an extension of self-certification, similar to during the pandemic, when it was extended to 28 days.

GP funding

“Ultimately GPs need resources not cuts, which currently is the experience of general practice. 

“And with a properly resourced primary care, we can do so much to prevent illness and do so much to help get people back into work.”

Mr Streeting set out how, if voted in at the next election, a Labour Government would tackle the crisis facing general practice.

“Of course GPs are having a real problem with their work load,” Mr Streeting said.

“If we want to sort this problem out then let’s deliver 2 million more appointments a year to cut NHS waiting lists.

Mental health support

Let’s have mental health support in every school. Let’s have mental health hubs in every community.

“Let’s double the number of scanners so we can diagnose earlier and treat faster.

“If we can get people treated and back on their feet we can get them back to work.”

Chris Philps, the Policing Minister, told the programme there were 850,000 more people on long-term sick since the pandemic.

Discussing plans announced by the Government this week to strip GPs of their power to sign people off and replace them with ‘specialist work and health professionals’, he was asked by host Fiona Bruce what makes them more qualified to sign people off.

Mr Philps said: “This is a very particular specialisation. They will be trained to identify what people can do, what they’re able to do rather than just sign them off as sick.

GPs under pressure

“GPs are under lots of pressure. We would rather they were seeing patients.

“There is also a concern that GPs being busy, being under pressure, might just be a little bit too quick to sign off a sick note.

“Having someone who is specialised in that area and who can think about what the individual is able to do, what things can they do with their condition, is a slightly more constructive way to look at it.”

Munira Wilson, the Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson, said: “People who can’t work desperately want to work but are stuck on NHS waiting lists.”

She said the Lib Dems would introduce a ‘GP guarantee’ that you could see a GP within seven days by recruiting another 8,000 GPs.

“We also need to talk about public health,” she added. “We need to help people to stay well better.”

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