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Stopping hospitals sending patients back to GPs for re-referrals will not resolve the GP workload, funding and recruitment crisis

Statement from National Health Action Party's Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham, London on - plans to stop GPs having to rearrange missed hospital appointments for patients:

"Stopping hospitals sending patients back to GPs for re-referrals is welcome but will make very little impact on the massive workload, funding and recruitment crisis facing GPs – problems that his Government is responsible for as they have systematically underfunded general practice over the past 5 years by £1 billion.

There is nothing wrong with scrutinising quality of care but these so-called Ofsted style ratings into three areas of care, which are suffering badly from government underfunding and poor policy decisions, seem more of a political ploy to deflect attention and blame for his government’s failings than a genuine attempt to improve quality of care. Cancer waiting times are getting worse, mental health services have suffered 8% real terms cuts worth almost £600 million, and dementia sufferers who are particularly affected by his government’s 40% cuts to social care. There is little that GP commissioners can do to purchase high quality care without sufficient funds. Opponents of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 argued at the time that rather than “giving power to GPs” it was a means to turning GPs into the rationers of care in an underfunded system, and ultimately the scapegoats when things inevitably go wrong.

If Jeremy Hunt really cared about high quality mental health, cancer and dementia care he would ensure the NHS and social care were adequately funded. He must reverse the cuts to social care and give the NHS an immediate cash injection as well as a commitment to adequate long term funding. The percentage of GDP spent on the NHS has fallen rapidly under his government and this must be reversed."

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