No-deal Brexit will damage patient care, warns RCGP

The Royal College of GPs has warned in its General Election manifesto that a no-deal Brexit will be 'hugely damaging' to patient care and 'must be avoided’.

#Back GP – A manifesto for general practice and patient care describes the critical risk to general practice and the NHS of leaving the EU without a deal, not least the threat to the supply of medicines and medical devices for patients. Furthermore, amid a severe shortage of GPs, the college is concerned that it will become even harder to recruit and retain vital EU staff in the NHS.

The RCGP is therefore calling on political parties to #BackGP by committing the next government to investing 11 per cent of the NHS budget in frontline general practice. Despite carrying out over 300 million consultations each year, general practice receives less than 10 per cent of the NHS budget.

The manifesto also includes pledges for: 5,000 additional GPs in England to tackle the urgent GP workforce crisis, as well as a pledge to expand members of the wider practice team; upgraded and purpose-built GP premises, including high-speed broadband for every GP surgery in the UK, so that patients are seen in modern fit-for purpose surgeries; 5,000 more GP training places per year in England and enhanced GP training to reflect the challenges and complexities of modern general practice; and greater support for GP teams so they can continue to provide high quality patient care.

Helen Stokes Lampard, chair of the college, said: "Our patients and the public love our NHS, and for 300 million patients a year – and rising - general practice is the frontline of the NHS. The main political parties have already made the NHS a key focus of their campaigns, but the last thing we want to see are vote-winning gimmicks. It is vital that their commitments are realistic and that they support our family doctor service.

"The pressures on general practice are unprecedented. Our patients' needs are becoming more complex and the traditional 10-minute consultation is no longer fit for purpose. We need more time with our patients but we are already going above and beyond to try and keep pace with demand, often to the detriment of our own health and wellbeing. We simply don't have enough GPs and practice staff to cope and patients are having to wait longer and longer for an appointment.

"Investment in general practice is investment in the entire NHS. The college is politically neutral but we care deeply about what matters to our patients and to our profession. The next government – whatever its political allegiance – must give GPs and our teams the support we need to do our jobs properly so that we can continue to provide safe and high quality care to our patients, well into the future. Any political party that ignores general practice does so at the peril of our patients and the NHS."

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