Open letter from local GP on threat to NHS

The NHS is under threat. Imposition of a new contract for junior doctors is yet another hammer blow to the morale of medical staff. Read this open letter from a local GP and give your support to the NHS by writing to your MP.

An open letter from Dr Nicola Hulme regarding the new contract for Junior Doctors (based on a letter composed by Dr William Ford Young):

Having worked as a doctor in the NHS since 1997 and as a GP since 2001 I have seen many changes in the NHS under many governments and health secretaries.  Never have I been more concerned for the safety of the continuation of the NHS.

Last week’s statement from Jeremy Hunt to the House of Commons to say he will impose the Junior Doctors’ Contract following his failure to negotiate with the British Medical Association has shown his intransigence and arrogance.  This is a short-sighted political stand which ignores the fact that there are already not enough doctors (especially GPs) in England, we have a manpower and recruitment crisis, and capacity cannot meet demand (have you tried to get a routine appointment with the GP of your choice lately?).  The government has rejected a fair and affordable offer put forward by the BMA which was in the best interests of patients and junior doctors (the future medical manpower of the NHS). It is notable that the other 3 countries of the UK have decided not to go down this route and if I were a junior doctor I would be considering seriously seeking employment and training prospects in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or abroad.  The shadow health secretary has described Jeremy Hunt as a “recruiting agent for Australian Hospitals”.

The Junior Doctors’ Contract has been in the news, what you may not be aware of is that since the last government introduced the Health & Social Care Act the GP contract has been changed by stealth and gradual imposition of changes “through the back door” and these changes are being escalated further by our present administration.  Did you know that GPs carry out 90% of the consultations in the NHS with 8% of the budget – 10 years ago we had 10% of the budget and it is calculated we need only 11% of the budget to make significant impact on capacity and demand.  We now do 340 million consultations per annum compared with 300 million 5 years ago.  We are doing more work for hospitals because they too are busy and under-resourced.  We have more paperwork and bureaucratic processes to carry out than ever before and even have to pay for our own extensive time-consuming external inspections by the Care Quality Commission, again unilaterally imposed on. Many GPs are considering early retirement because a loss of pension is preferable to working under unsustainable pressures on our time, health and professional integrity. I am involved in recruitment and training of GPs and I know first-hand that there are not enough young doctors of suitable calibre entering GP training and after last week there will be fewer.

Jeremy Hunt has alienated not only Junior Doctors (25% of medical manpower in the country) but also all of us in the medical profession in the NHS.  We are part of this country’s infrastructure that are generally politically non-militant, intelligent, hard-working and dedicated to our patients and go the extra mile for them.  Why should we if we are not valued by the boss?

Do you want to be able to see a GP in the future?  Do you still want an NHS?  If so then please consider petitioning as above and also writing to your MP (easy to find email address from www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/ ) – you don’t need to say much – just that you have grave concerns over the sustainability of a medical workforce in the NHS under the present government and Secretary of State for Health in particular.

More information is available at www.bma.org.uk and www.rcgp.org.uk

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