General election: GPs feel demoralised, DAUK tells national radio listeners

DAUK’s Dr Rosie Shire says many GPs and doctors feel ‘demoralised’ and ‘dispirited’ after Rish Sunak was confronted about general practice.

The Prime Minister was speaking at general election rally in Wiltshire when a GP questioned him about changes to funding available to recruit staff.

The GP, understood to be Dr Jane Lees-Millais, said the NHS was ‘disintegrating’ and said that she was one of 2,500 GPs in the country currently unemployed because of the Government’s policies.

“The country is not stupid,” she said. “They know when lesser qualified people are being used to conduct consultations which are massively complex.”

Mr Sunak responded by saying his dad was a GP and mum a pharmacist, and that he understood primary care.

He said he was ‘making it easier for people to see other primary care practitioners to get the treatments they need’.

General practice funding

Dr Shire, of the Doctors’ Association UK GP committee,  told national radio listeners that GPs were not allowed to spend funds from the Government on hiring GPs or practice nurses.

Speaking to Vanessa Feltz on LBC, Dr Shire said: “There’s concern within general practice that the demand is increasing and yet we have 2,000 fewer GPs than we did in 2015.

“Although they are putting money into primary care, unfortunately, that money is ring-fenced so it can’t be used for GPs and practice nurses.

Head and shoulders photo of GP and DAUK GP committee member Dr Rosie Shire
Dr Rosie Shire, of DAUK’s GP committee

“It can only be used for other patient care roles, such as pharmacists or physios, which is great and they definitely play a part in primary care, but we have GPs coming through the system, they’re trained up, they want to work, and they can’t get jobs.

“We have patients who want to see GPs but they haven’t got that choice anymore.”

She said that allied healthcare professionals had an important part to play in Primary Care, but that GPs ‘trained for much longer and have that depth and breadth to see the person as a whole’.

“As people get older they’re going to have more health conditions and that then does cause more complexity,” Dr Shire said.

“Healthcare professionals who aren’t medically trained perhaps won’t be able to look at that as a whole and understand the depth of what might be going on.

“It’s having that picture as a whole and making sure people are seen by the right person, and a GP is able to look at that in one go.

“If people see a physician, that costs less than seeing a non-physician such as a patient care role that isn’t a GP or a nurse.”

Is the NHS broken?

Asked by Vanessa Feltz whether the NHS was ‘disintegrating’, Dr Shire said: “We’re worried it might be broken. It’s definitely not doing well at the moment.

“People are becoming more unwell. We have more people needing care.

 “If we can get people the healthcare they need earlier, we can get them back on their feet and working again.”

Dr Shire added: “I think a lot of GPs and a lot of doctors are starting to feel demoralised and dispirited.

“You train to become a doctor because you want to help people, you know what that person needs and you can’t give them that.

“That is really hard and I think we’re seeing more and more GPs burning out and struggling themselves.

“The services that support GPs and doctors with their mental health are struggling because we’re struggling ourselves.

“But we keep going back because you want to do what you can and you want to do your best.

“If you can’t do that, it doesn’t feel very nice.”

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DAUK is holding a briefing for prospective MPs on Wednesday 19 June to discuss the crisis in general practice and things that could be done to tackle it.

The briefing, Why Can’t I See My GP? The Great British Paradox, is based on the book Why Can’t I See My GP?, a copy of which DAUK sent to all 650 MPs in March.

The briefing will be held members of DAUK’s GP committee, including its chair Dr Lizzie Toberty, past DAUK co-chair Dr Ellen Welch, and members Dr Steve Taylor and Dr Sarah Jacques.

DAUK is asking people to invite the candidates standing in their constituency to attend the briefing. Find out the candidates in your constituency at https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/

Find out more about the briefing.