11:34AM, Monday 23 January 2017
Doctors in Berkshire have hit back after Theresa May suggested they were to blame for the latest NHS crisis.
In an open letter, the Prime Minister and her government colleagues have been called on to take responsibility for the current problems, rather than ‘making a tawdry attempt to use GPs as scapegoats’.
The message, by Dr John Rawlinson, chairman of the Berkshire Local Medical Committee, also says that attempting to force GPs to work 10 hours a day or more would be irresponsible.
He claims this would increase ‘exhaustion, burnout and stress’ within the profession, which would have knock-on effects for patient safety, as well as recruitment.
And he also challenges the concept of the seven-day NHS promise in the Conservative Party’s manifesto when staffing levels mean even a five-day service is a struggle to provide.
Dr Rawlinson’s intervention came after Mrs May suggested money could be taken away from surgeries if they are shown to not be offering enough appointments.
The Government argues that by offering more out-of-hours services, surgeries could take the strain off emergency departments by treating patients without a trip to hospital being necessary.
Dr Adrian Hayter, chairman of the Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead Clinical Commissioning Group, disagreed with this assessment however, claiming GPs were already doing all they could to offer appointments and that more needed to be done to get patients through the system faster.
“But we know that’s not the only thing that will slow the problem,” he said.
“It’s also about the people in the hospital beds being there too long waiting to leave.
“But if we can get people out of hospitals quicker, that stops people having to wait so long in A&E.”
He continued: “We could put on more appointments, but it’s not going to solve the problem.
“GPs are already under a lot of pressure and we probably couldn’t work much harder than we’re already doing – her comments didn’t really hit a chord with us.”
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