General practice on brink of collapse, warns top medic

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General practice is on the "brink of collapse", a leading doctor has warned.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) GP committee, accused politicians of turning a blind eye to "spiralling pressures" affecting the health and social care systems in England.

In a speech to the national conference of Local Medical Committees, which represents grassroots GPs, Dr Nagpaul will highlight mounting workloads and staff shortages.

GP practices have become "frighteningly vulnerable", he said.

The only solution is to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, he will tell delegates of the conference, which is being held in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, he called for politicians to "end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens".

Dr Nagpaul will highlight the "avalanche of work" and a service that is "several thousand GPs short", adding: "The plight of general practice remains parlous and on the brink of collapse.

"Individual practices have become frighteningly vulnerable, with one in 10 practices surveyed by the BMA saying they're not sustainable and we've witnessed record numbers of practice closures - not surprising with one in three practices unable to fill GP vacancies.

"Even a seemingly secure practice is just one partner away from retiring to set off a domino effect which could lead to collapse."

He will add: "Since we last met a year ago, the NHS has been paralysed by the vote for the UK to leave the European Union.

"Far from the pledged investment of an extra £350 million per week, audaciously plastered on double decker buses, the reality is we've been cheated with the opposite: a deep freeze in NHS spend, continued savage austerity cuts and with politicians turning a blind eye to the spiralling pressures affecting the entire health and social care system, in which even the 18 week target, laid down in the NHS constitution, is being allowed to be breached."

Dr Nagpaul will call on GPs to "resurrect their Darwinian survival instinct", but will add: "The real solution is a political one - in which politicians must end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens in an NHS that shamefully trails Europe in its funding, numbers of doctors and infrastructure.

"The only solution is for government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, in which general practice receives a fair and larger share."

GPs at the conference will discuss a number of matters regarding their profession.

They will be asked whether or not they are in favour of various motions including:

:: Charging their patients for treatment not available on NHS.

:: Opposing putting GPs in A&E departments.

:: An assertion that private firm Capita's support services for GPs in England has been "shambolic", with calls for the support services for general practice to be returned to being delivered by an NHS organisation.