I am concerned by the Royal College of General Practitioners’ recent report which finds that medical students are being deterred from specialising as GPs because of negative perceptions. The RCGP report contains several recommendations to tackle the spread of misconceptions and negativity amongst medical students to ensure the next generation of doctors aspires to specialise as GPs.
In April, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee expressed concerns that staffing in general practice is not keeping pace with growing demand. Despite the government’s promise to increase the number of doctors working in general practice by 5,000 by 2020, the number has fallen in the last year and problems with staff retention have continued. Indeed, Health Education England did not fill the number of available training places for GPs last year.
In the run up to the Autumn Budget, experts said our health service required an additional £4 billion this year, yet the Chancellor announced just £335 million. The RCGP expressed its concerns that the government has overlooked the increased pressures that GPs are under. I believe it is testament to the government’s financial mismanagement of our NHS that it is now planning to pay recruitment agencies up to £100 million to plug staffing gaps in general practice.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to increase funding to GP services and invest in our health and care workforce to give staff the support they need to do their best for their patients. The manifesto also pledged to support GPs to deliver the best possible care by investing in training, education and development throughout their careers, and immediately guarantee the rights of EU staff working in the NHS.
The government needs to come up with a workable plan for boosting the number of GPs and invest in frontline services to ensure that patient care does not suffer.