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Give GPs more cash to ease A&E crisis

RCGP chair says GPs can treat more people in the community

Mark Gould

Friday, 09 August 2013

The crisis in emergency care can only be relieved if general practice gets a larger share of the NHS budget says Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). 

She was speaking in response to the the announcement yesterday by Prime Minister David Cameron to pump an extra £500 million into A&Es which have experienced severe problems last winter.

The money, which comes from NHS efficiency savings and underspends, will be spent in A&E and in the community developing seven day working, building up social services and ensuring appropriate admission and discharge from care homes.

But Dr Gerada called the initiative "temporary, sticking plaster solution that will only plug the gaps in the short term when what we need is a long-term solution and that is major investment in general practice".

She said that GPs make 90 per cent of NHS patient contacts but receive only 9 per cent of the budget. "If general practice was appropriately resourced and we had more GPs, we would be able to provide more care to patients in their communities, so that they do not have to go into hospital unless absolutely necessary.

"While the government continues to focus on the crisis in Emergency Departments, it is losing sight of the very real crisis in general practice. Our recent survey revealed that some GPs are routinely making up to 60 patient contacts in the space of a single day, that 85% of GPs think that the profession is in crisis and that nearly half can no longer guarantee safe patient care.

"This is not sustainable. If general practice starts to crumble then the rest of the health service will collapse, with disastrous consequences for patient care. We call on the government as a matter of urgency to invest in general practice and those working in it, so that we can deliver real improvements for our patients.”

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