16 December 2017

Letter to The Telegraph on Impact on NHS Without General Practice

The Telegraph published Chair Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard's letter to the editor on 16 December 2017 in response to Philip Johnston's proposal that the NHS can survive without general practice.

As one of the country's GPs, who will collectively see over a million patients today alone, I am flabbergasted – as I'm sure our patients will be – by Philip Johnston's ludicrous proposal that the NHS could survive without general practice (Here's an idea to save the National Health Service: get rid of GPs, 13 December).

The care GPs and our teams provide to patients is the most cost-effective part of the NHS. We make the vast majority of NHS patient contacts for just 9% of the overall budget. We keep the NHS upright by alleviating pressures across the health service; not contributing to them.

To say that A&E departments are becoming the gatekeepers of the NHS is naïve, and frankly wrong. Last year more than ten times as many consultations were made in general practice than there were attendances at Emergency Departments.

As for Mr Johnston's suggestion that technology will replace family doctors – tell that to the 90% of patients who consistently report having trust and confidence in their GP. We embrace technology in general practice, but no app or algorithm will ever be able to deliver the holistic care that hard-working GPs are highly trained to do.

Perhaps Philip Johnston would like to come and visit me in my surgery, and meet some patients, before proposing that the NHS gets rid of GPs.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard
Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners

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.