The British Medical Association (BMA) are calling on the government to invest in general practice and provide better services for the public.
The launch of the Support Your Surgery campaign comes after a survey found that almost half of the public in England say if they could make one improvement to their GP practice, it would be to increase the number of doctors.
The BMA are now encouraging members of the public to support their call to action by signing a petition set up by the Association. The petition explains why it’s been so hard to see GPs face-to-face over the past 18 months and asks the government to fund improved buildings and source more GPs.
The majority of people surveyed feel the government are to blame for backlog of care
During the pandemic, demand for GPs rose and infection control measures were introduced. This led to less people receiving face-to-face appointments, which has contributed to increasing levels of staff abuse.
In fact, a recent BMA survey found that one in five GPs reported being threatened at work, while 67% said their experience of abuse, threatening behaviour or violence had got worse in the last year.
In the latest survey, however, the majority (60%) of participants felt that the government, local commissioning groups and NHS management were largely responsible for the backlog of care and lack of access to a GP, with just a quarter feeling that GPs and other healthcare staff in surgeries were to blame.
“We can’t make the changes we and our patients want to see without urgent government backing and funding”
Dr Richard Vautrey, GP committee chair at the BMA, said decades of underfunding and a lack of staff have “significantly” added to the pressures on GP services, and when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, this sadly resulted in staff abuse and violence from patients.
“This isn’t the way we want it to be. GPs and their teams are just as frustrated, and while the general practice workforce have done everything in their power to improve pressures in their own surgeries, we can’t make the changes we and our patients want to see without urgent government backing and funding.
“It’s important that patients understand the reality of this crisis and that, despite the easing of lockdown, the pressures on general practice will only get worse if nothing is done. Not only is Covid-19 still a threat, but GPs also continue to deliver the vaccine rollout; annual winter pressures and the flu season could make things worse; and the backlog of care is constantly growing.
“General practice is at a crossroads and the route for general practice to get through this crisis isn’t guaranteed at the moment. All doctors want to do is help their patients, but we need the right funding and resources to do that, and to the standard that our communities understandably expect,” he said.
Dr Vautrey is now urging the public to sign the petition calling on the Government to provide the necessary funding for GP services. “If you support your surgery, it means it can be there to support you,” he said.