Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"An Empty Populist Pledge", by Clive Peedell and Louise Irvine

Reaction to David Cameron's pledge of 7 day a week GP access from National Health Action Party co-leader Dr Clive Peedell and London GP, Dr Louise Irvine.

NHA co-leader, Dr Clive Peedell said:

"This announcement illustrates the chaos within the Coalition. The PM says he wants to tackle the causes of ill health yet his Chancellor announces cuts to the incomes of the working poor creating greater poverty the leading cause for ill health.

The PM supported the Health & Social Care Act which divested the Secretary of State for Health the responsibility for providing a health service yet here we have politicians deciding where scarce resources are best spent without any economic analysis in the public domain.

The announcement he should have made was to abolish the NHS market and reinvest the billions currently wasted on bureaucracy in frontline services whilst simultaneously tackling the determinants of ill health."

NHA's Dr Louise Irvine, London GP and prospective parliamentary candidate for SW Surrey, the seat of Jeremy Hunt said:

"This is utter nonsense. It is an empty populist pledge. Many of the pilot schemes that he claims have been a success haven't even got off the ground, so where's the evidence that they are effective?​

£100 million cannot even begin to make up for the loss of funding to maintain existing GP services never mind extending them to 7 days.

£100 million is about £2/person/year. For an average GP practice of 6000 patients that means an extra £12000 a year. For that the practice would have to be open 60% longer than currently (from 52.5 hours to 84 hours a week) and pay doctors, nurses and admin staff to be there. That would be approximately 1500 extra hours a year - £8 for every extra hour opened. That would not even pay for a receptionist for the surgery never mind the medical staff to provide the service.

This is a bad joke and shows how disdainful the Tories are of ordinary people and their health services. Instead of recognising and tackling the real crisis in general practice - not enough GPs, £1 billion of funding cuts to GP services over past 5 years and a recruitment crisis where young doctors are not choosing general practice and older ones are retiring early - Cameron is pretending that if you give a measly £100 million that will somehow sort the problems in general practice.

The real issues that people are concerned about are not 7 day opening but actually being able to see a GP in a reasonable time, and for the GP to have long enough to really deal with their problems properly.

Indeed, with the rate of practice closures and threatened closures, for What is needed is a reversal of the decline in percentage of NHS funding spent on general practice, bringing it back up to 11%, and the resources should be invested in more GPs with smaller patient lists so they have more time with their patients. Increasing average appointment time from 10 to 15 minutes would make a great improvement to the patient experience and quality of care.

That is the kind of proposal that would make a real difference, not Cameron's populist posturing. But that would take real money - and Cameron would rather give tax cuts to the rich than invest in our NHS."

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