BBC News have recently published an article highlighting Helen Stokes-Lampard’s fears for the NHS and “how doctors will cope with demand over the busy winter period”. Dr Stokes-Lampard is the chair of the Royal College of GPs Council and a leading GP in Britain.
The article begins by noting how people often have to wait weeks to see a doctor – the implications of which can be very serious, as non-urgent conditions become urgent. On top of this, the article suggests that the wait will have a great impact on chronic disease management. Dr Stokes-Lampard argues that the progress and success made in this area so far will be wiped, as doctors become too busy “fire-fighting the urgent stuff”.
The article notes that this fire-fighting will also have an impact on the doctors themselves, as they become stressed and tired.
While NHS England has said it will offer extra funding to extend services, Dr Stokes-Lampard says that this has “yet to reach the front line”. Furthermore, she states: “As a service that is already skating on thin ice – a service that is stretched incredibly thinly – something has to give.”
The real seriousness of the matter is summarised by her statement: “if general practice goes under then the hospitals fall down very quickly too because they will be completely inundated with patients and that’s a risk to the whole NHS.”
BBC News also draw on the ideas of Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee, who suggests that this is not just an issue of the winter period, but a year-round problem. While the situation is worsened by winter-related conditions such as the flu or an increase in trips and falls, it is faced by surgeries almost every day of the week.
Indeed, as Julie Cooper, the shadow health minister, says, GP surgeries are “overwhelmed by ever-increasing demand”.
While the article does point out that “GP services are on track to receive an extra £2.4 billion investment by 2020” in order to expand appointment availability, in the meantime, the NHS may need to fall back on the support of a private GP surgery, like LDC.
You can read the full article on from the BBC News, here.