Thursday, October 03, 2013

David Cameron's cuts are leading NHS towards catastrophe, says Britain's top doctor.


 Mirror NEWS

David Cameron's cuts are leading NHS towards catastrophe, says Britain's top doctor.

Thousands of patients are being put at risk by the drop in GP funding which could have “disastrous” consequences for the nation’s health
Crisis: Dr Clare Gerada fears for the National Health Service
Crisis: Dr Clare Gerada fears for the National Health Service
Guardian
Britain's top doctor will today accuse David Cameron of leading the NHS towards a “catastrophe” as alarming new figures show GPs face a £400million “black hole” in funding.
Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, will hit out at the Prime Minister for ruthlessly slashing the primary care budget while simultaneously ordering family doctors to open surgeries seven days a week.
Thousands of patients are being put at risk by the drop in GP funding which could have “disastrous” consequences for the nation’s health, Dr Gerada will say at the annual RCGP conference.
The Tory-led coalition is cutting £20billion from the NHS budget with 21,000 staff axed in just the last three months.
Earlier this week Mr Cameron announced that every GP practice should open for business in the evenings and at weekends. The RCGP says the Government must train 10,000 more GPs if surgeries are to cope.
Shock new figures obtained by the RCGP and seen by the Daily Mirror show funding for GPs has fallen to £8,459million in 2013 from £8,865million in 2010.
The data, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, reveals for the first time how primary care funding has been slashed by £406million in the last three years.           
 Speaking at the annual RCGP conference in Harrogate today, Dr Gerada will call for an “emergency package” of funding from the Government to ensure patient care is “safe and sustainable”.
Dr Gerada said: “Our figures should send out a warning to Government and the rest of the NHS that we will soon have a catastrophe on our hands if urgent action is not taken to reverse the decline in funding for general practice and provide GPs with an appropriate amount to spend on each patient every year.
“For years politicians, health professionals and patients alike have been saying that we must shift the centre of gravity of the health service away from hospitals, with more care delivered to patients closer to home, and a greater focus on prevention.
"But these figures show that we are in fact moving in the opposite direction.
“GPs are keen to do more for their patients but we are heaving under the pressure of ever increasing workloads and diminishing resources, including a chronic shortfall of GPs.
"Some of us are routinely working 11-hour days with up to 60 patient contacts in a single day and this is not safe or sustainable, for patients or GPs.
“We simply cannot do more without the funding and resources to back it up.
“We are working our hardest to make sure that patients are not affected but the status quo is no longer an option. We must have an emergency package of additional investment for general practice to protect GP services and protect our patients from cuts to their care.”
She added: “General practice is the most cost effective and efficient arm of the health service - GPs keep the rest of the NHS stable and secure.
"Once general practice starts to crumble, the entire NHS will follow with disastrous consequences for our patients.
“In August this year, the Government announced an additional £500million over the next two years for A&E departments.
"What we need is our fair share of funding - at least 10% of the entire NHS budget and at least 10,000 more GPs - so that GPs can provide more services for patients in their communities.”

Mr Cameron announced earlier this week at the Tory Party conference that GP surgeries would open between 8am and 8pm seven days a week and patients could access services via email, telephone and Skype.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, yesterday said the Government must plug the funding gap if it wanted the new proposals to work.
He added: “Urgent investment has long been needed in general practice and treating more patients in primary care settings can decrease burden on other struggling services.
"However any extension of services needs to be effectively resourced to equip GPs and nurses working in general practice with adequate tools to cope with demand.”
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “The Prime Minister has spent all year trying to blame the 2004 GP contract for problems in primary care and A&E. But these figures tell the real story and expose Cameron’s spin.
“People are struggling to get appointments because Cameron siphoned billions out of frontline services to pay for a reorganisation no one wanted. On his watch, GP surgeries are shutting their doors earlier because he cut the funding for evening and weekend opening agreed by Labour.
“These figures are embarrassing for a Prime Minister who got elected on a promise not to cut the NHS.
"They make a mockery of yet more promises he has made on GP access in Manchester this week and show he simply can’t be trusted on the NHS.”

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