Media reports about NHS England’s plans to use a private company to remove patients who have not used their local GP practice in the last five years if they don’t reply to two letters is yet another example of how the government’s drive to save money could have a detrimental impact on patient care and safety.
Every person in Sussex and across the UK has a fundamental right to be registered with a local GP and they shouldn’t be punished simply for being too well and not needing to see a GP recently. None of us know when we will become ill and need to see a GP urgently. We all therefore need to have the certainty of being registered with a local practice.
Worryingly, the biggest impact could be on the most vulnerable patient, who may not understand the importance of responding to letters from NHS managers.
Practices themselves have had serious problems with the management of back-office services since NHS England gave the task to a private company. GPs fear patients could be the next to suffer.
We are currently facing an unprecedented crisis in general practice with rising levels of workload, a fall in resources and greater staff shortages. Surely it is clear that the solution lies not in the continual chipping away of our core services but in greater investment.
Dr Richard Vautrey
BMA GP Committee Deputy Chair, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London
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