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GPs cannot take stress off overworked A&E departments, RCGP tells MPs

General practice is under as much stress as emergency medicine, RCGP chair says

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 05 June 2013

Attempts to resolve the pressures on A&E must also take account of pressures elsewhere in the service, in particular that on general practice, RCGP chair Claire Gerada has told MPs.

Dr Gerada gave evidence to the House of Common’s health select committee’s inquiry into emergency services and care yesterday. She told MPs that the current focus on A&E alone was wrong because other parts of the NHS were under equal pressures.

“I could just as easily put the words ‘general practice’ into there. We are under similar pressures,” she said.

“We must make sure that we commission an integrated approach to urgent care,” she explained, otherwise “all you are doing is squeezing that problem to another part of the system” and “actually push the system to breaking point, which it already is in all honesty”.

She added: “We need to have a whole system approach to start looking at the under investment in primary care. We have 9% of the resources for 90% of the activity.”

She told MPs that GPs had seen an approximate 100% increase in their workload over the decade. As GPs were responsible for managing more and more long-term chronic disease, they were doing many of the things that hospital specialists would have done a decade ago. “What I do now is what a physician did 10 years ago and what a psychiatrist did 10 years ago,” she said.

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