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Parliamentary debate on GP pressures scheduled for later this week

RCGP secures debate after more than 300,000 people sign its petition

Caroline White

Monday, 02 February 2015

A parliamentary debate on the pressures facing GPs is scheduled for later this week after more than 300,000 people signed a Royal College of GPs’ petition to boost funding for primary care.

MPs will be asked to vote on a motion calling for health secretary Jeremy Hunt to urgently secure the financial future of general practice at a debate in parliament this Thursday.

Sparked by the RCGP and National Association for Patient Participation’s Put patients first: Back general practice campaign, MPs will discuss the pressures that GPs are currently facing due to increasing demand amid depleted resources and workforce.

The motion states that MPs note the vital role played by local GP services in communities throughout the UK, with an estimated one million patients receiving care from a family doctor or nurse every day, and agree that the UK’s tradition of excellent general practice provision is a central factor in the NHS being consistently ranked as one of the world’s best health services by the independent Commonwealth Fund.

The motion also states that MPs are concerned that the College is warning that these services are under severe strain, with increasing concerns raised by constituents about access to their GP and 91% of GPs saying general practice does not have sufficient resources to deliver high quality patient care.

The motion commends MPs to note that the share of NHS funding spent on general practice has fallen to an all time low of 8.3%, and that over 300,000 people across the UK have signed the campaign petition calling for this trend to be reversed.

And the motion commends MPs to welcome the emphasis placed in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View on strengthening general practice and giving GPs a central role in developing new models of integrated care.

The RCGP is writing to all MPs in England, urging them to attend the debate and is also calling on its 50,000-strong membership to put pressure on their local MP to take part in the debate by writing to them via the College’s website.

The debate is being sponsored by a cross party group of MPs including Derek Twigg (Labour, Halton), Paul Burstow (Lib Dem, Sutton and Cheam), Charlotte Leslie (Conservative, Bristol North West), and Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion).

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the RCGP, said the debate was recognition that the College’s campaign had worked and that politicians and decision makers recognised the parlous situation that GPs have been dealing with for too long.

“Ahead of the election this year we have heard welcome pledges from all major political parties in England, and there have also been encouraging developments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But we are yet to see these promises converted into tangible resources to relieve the immense pressure on GPs and enable them to provide high quality care to our patients,” she said. 

“General practice is the cornerstone of the health service – it keeps the NHS sustainable, and our patients safe – and we need to make sure that it is in a position to keep doing so for years to come,” she added. 

People can find information via the RCGP website on how to write to their MP, asking them to attend the event.

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