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General practice ‘deserves better’

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The general practice workforce is overstretched The general practice workforce is overstretched

The new Government must honour its pledges to general practice, in order to reduce waiting times for appointments, the new Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners has said.

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Professor Martin Marshall stated that waiting times were ‘unacceptable’ and that primary care needs immediate attention to alleviate pressures.

‘As you have said many times, general practice is the bedrock of the NHS and alleviates pressure right across the health service, particularly secondary care,’ said Professor Marshall. ‘The general practice workforce – GPs, nurses, and other clinical and non-clinical staff – are central to ensuring that the NHS continues to deliver high-quality care to patients.’

‘Nurses working in General Practice feel the pressures of staff shortages just as much as GPs. We know, however, that those working in General Practice are often paid less than those in other parts of the NHS,’ said Marie-Therese Massey, RCN Professional Lead for General Practice Nursing.

“Others are on contracts which mean there is a lack of maternity or sick pay, less holiday entitlement, no set pay scale and a lack of a clear structure for career progression. This lack of parity with other NHS colleagues’ terms and conditions has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis in the GPN workforce at a time when the shift of care closer to home is growing.’

General practice makes the majority of patient contacts in the NHS and workload is increasing. From September-November 2019 GPs in England made 41.9m patient consultations – 450,000 more than the same period the previous year.

‘General practice nurses play a vital role in delivering high quality care and whilst it is of crucial important that more nurses are recruited across the NHS we are also clear that those who dedicate themselves to working in General Practice have contracts and pay that keeps them in line with those working elsewhere,’ added Ms Massey.

‘This will play a vital role in growing the GPN workforce and ensure we can deliver safe and effective patient care’

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