26 November 2013

RCGP Letter in Response to Daily Mail Article on 'GP Mistakes'

RCGP Chair, Dr Maureen Baker, wrote the following in response to an article in the Daily Mail. This was originally sent as a letter to the editor, but was not published.

Dear Sir

I was disappointed to read Angela Epstein’s piece on ‘mistakes that even good GPs make’ in your Good Health pages (18 November), especially as there was no input from a single family doctor.

General practitioners are expert medical generalists, meaning we have the skill to address the physical, social and psychological aspects of local patients’ wellbeing, in the context of their individual needs, their families and their communities.

It is the GP’s role to make a diagnosis based on a doctor-patient consultation that takes into account a wide range of factors. We then judge whether treatment can be delivered through community-based services, or whether the patient needs to see a specialist.

If GPs had the knowledge and focussed training that specialists have, across all specialties, there would be no need for specialists.

The conflicting comments from the consultants in your article, some of whom complain that GPs refer too readily, while others say GPs don’t refer readily enough indicates that family doctors have probably got to the balance about right and are doing their job well – making judgements in the best interests of each individual patient.

The NHS needs both generalists and specialists. We perform different roles but both are essential to delivering good patient care.

General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS – providing good value care for patients in their local communities.

But the care we provide is now under threat, as we are trying to care for a growing and ageing population, with more people suffering from multiple, serious long term conditions, with a declining share of the NHS budget. GPs now carry out 90% of the NHS patient contacts for just 8.4% of the NHS budget.

We need more investment in general practice so that we can offer better patient services and keep people away from hospitals, where care is more expensive. The downward spiral in funding means our patients are losing out.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs

Further Information

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 49,000 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.