19 December 2018

College Defends GPs Over 'Morning Sickness' Accusations

RCGP Chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, has had a letter published in the Times newspaper today, in response to an article criticising GPs over the care of pregnant women with severe vomiting.

The full version is below.

Once again, it seems to be open season on GPs who, this time, stand accused of ‘fobbing off’ pregnant women with severe morning sickness. (Women palmed off by GPs call ambulances over morning sickness, December 18, page 10)

Today alone, over 1m patients will visit their GP surgery, and dedicated GPs and their teams are working harder than ever to try and keep up with inexorably rising patient demand at a time when we also have a severe shortage of family doctors. To charge us with not giving our patients the care they need is insulting and demoralising at a time when we need all the support we can get.

GPs are managing complex conditions in the community that even a decade ago would have been automatically referred to hospitals, thereby reducing pressures on the rest of the NHS.

GPs want to do the very best for all our patients and we are well aware of the impact that severe vomiting can have on the health of pregnant women at a time when they often feel anxious and vulnerable.

There remains only one licensed drug available to GPs to prescribe in primary care to pregnant women with vomiting, although several others are available on an unlicensed basis. Additionally, many pregnant women choose not to take any medication and will only consider it as a last resort when milder treatments have not worked, which is why some patients come back to see us several times.

The high quality care of pregnant women, and indeed all our patients, is an absolute priority. However, our family doctor service needs investment and support to keep it going, not inflammatory headlines and accusations that we are failing the very patients that we entered this profession to care for.

Further Information
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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.