The GMC published its annual report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK last week in which it spoke about a ‘state of unease in the medical profession’, highlighting:
It is ironic that some of this is a direct result of disproportionate medical regulation in the UK, by which the GMC’s own processes have caused angst among doctors. GPs are further regulated by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), NHS England and performance managed by CCGs (clinical commissioning groups).
In last year’s BMA GPs survey, over-regulation was in the top five factors that negatively impact on GPs’ working lives, with 80 per cent stating that the CQC regime made them more likely to want to leave the profession.
This year’s GMC report speaks of the need for a ‘light-touch’ regulatory approach, but we have yet to see evidence of this. Equally, the CQC fees consultation proposes exorbitant increases in inspection fees (albeit to offset the loss of central government funding), when we would surely expect that a light-touch approach should signal a reduction in its operational costs. You can read the BMA GPs committee’s response, which strongly opposes these fee rises.
What the GMC report fails to point out is the shameful lack of NHS funding, lower than almost all of the UK’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development counterparts, which puts pressure on doctors to do the impossible on scant resources – an environment in which, scandalously, nine out of 10 GPs say workload pressures are preventing them from providing quality care.
Working within safe limits
Quality first: delivering safe patient care provides GPs and practices with tools and measures to help them work within safe limits, and to instruct them on how to push back on inappropriate workload.
More recently, the GP Forward View’s practice resilience programme offers resources and a menu of support for practices whose circumstances are jeopardising their ability to provide core services, or are at risk of closure. Although the deadline for this year’s funding has just passed, if practices are in need of such support, I would suggest that you still contact your CCG (and let your local medical committee know too).
Commons health select committee challenges Government funding of NHS
This year’s GMC report is all the more poignant in the context of the letter sent earlier this week by health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston to prime minister Theresa May, which challenges the Government’s claim that it would be investing £10bn in the NHS, and which the committee believes to be much lower at about £6bn. The committee warns that this underfunding ‘calls into question the ability of the NHS to maintain services’.
While it is crucial that the prime minister and chancellor take on board the committee’s warnings, even the issue of the quantum of investment ignores the fact that the NHS is having to make far bigger efficiency savings of £22bn, which appears to be an impossible task to achieve.
We have reached the point where there needs to be open public debate on the NHS, the resources needed to provide a comprehensive service, and how these funds will be made available. This committee report simply adds even more weight of evidence to the simple necessity that this should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
With best wishes,
BMA GPs committee chair