Speaking at a Brent Patient Voice public meeting at the Learie Constantine Centre on last Thursday 15th November, Dr Pauline Foreman, Medical Director at the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that GPs sometimes felt like hamsters on a wheel. Patients were unhappy at long waits for appointments. The NHS wanted GPs to send fewer people to hospitals. Visits to practices from the Care Quality Commission were quite scary, even though 90% of practices were rated good or outstanding. NHS England targets to replace retiring GPs were not being met.
However GPs should be seen as irreplaceable specialists in the whole range of medical conditions. Being a GP offered an enjoyable career with a huge variety of challenges and the chance to interact with many different patients. “If GPs could be allocated 11% instead of 8% of the NHS budget under the new NHS Ten Year Plan they could do what they were expected to do,” she said. Help for struggling practices was at hand from the Royal College and others. “Any closure of a practice is a failure, both for patients and the NHS. It costs a great deal and is very upsetting.”
Her message was echoed by long-term Brent doctor and new Chair of Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr MC Patel. He explained that in Brent there are around 2,300 patients per GP, as compared with a London average of 1,670. “We want to make Brent a borough of choice for GPs and other health professionals” he said. The good news was that after Brent took a stall at a recent nursing event 76 people expressed an interest in working in general practice in the borough. The CCG wanted to see all local practices collaborating under the umbrella of the new Primary Care Homes initiative.
“This could involve some patients going to neighbouring practices for long-term care, e.g. for diabetes, but they would still have their own GP at their regular practice,” said Dr Patel.
Questions from the audience recalled the days of the TV programme “Dr Finlay’s Casebook” demonstrating the value of the one-to-one personal relationship between GP and patient. The speakers agreed that this was still very important for long-term patients but recognised that the younger generation often wanted to access services quickly online.
Thanking the speakers for their very informative contributions, BPV Chair Robin Sharp said:
We as BPV and through our Practice Patient Groups are keen to help practices in these difficult times. We look forward to working with the Royal College and Brent CCG to secure the best results for patients in Brent.
For further information contact: Robin Sharp, BPV Chair on 020 8969 0381 or firstname.lastname@example.org