Express & Star

'55 hours is standard - it's a recipe for burnout': We asked protesting GPs about issues they face

GPs from across the West Midlands came together this weekend to call for solutions to what they call a "crisis in general practice".

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GPs' peaceful demonstration in Birmingham City Centre on Saturday

Doctors decried a decline in the number of GPs and practices, "unsustainable" funding and long hours as they marched through Birmingham in a peaceful demonstration to send a message to the Government.

"We've organised this peaceful demonstration today of GPs from all across the West Midlands who are here in their own time trying to highlight the reasons why general practice is in a crisis and why patients cannot get an appointment," said Cannock-based GP Dr Manu Agrawal, the chair of the South Staffordshire local medical committee (LMC) and secretary of the West Midlands group of LMCs.

One of the sore points is that a £1.4 billion pot of money intended to pay for primary care roles including pharmacists and paramedics through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) does not cover salaried or locum GPs or practice nurses.

Dr Manu Agrawal

Dr Agrawal said during the demonstration on Saturday: "We have lost 2,000 GPs since 2015. We have lost 1,300 practices and the Government are not allowing us to use £1.4 billion of the allocated staff funding to recruit GPs and nurses.

"What patients are asking for is GP appointments, what we want to give them is GP appointments - but the Government are not allowing us to use the funding.

"We are using this opportunity to speak to the Government and ask them to work with us, work with the profession for us to be able to provide the services we want for our patients and make general practice a priority in the coming general election.

"So the most pressing issue is utilisation of that £1.4bn by individual practices to recruit the staff that they need including GPs and nurses, but also fair funding of practice. We have seen a 20 per cent reduction in pay in general practice since 2015. We only get 30p per patient per day to provide all the care that the patients need, and that is not sustainable and that is why we are struggling."