As leaders that speak on behalf of all parts of the NHS in England, we stand unwaveringly in support of the vital contribution from both GPs and the primary care teams in which they work, across the country. The ongoing criticism of our primary care colleagues is unfair and unwarranted. The physical and verbal abuse which has been reported is totally unacceptable and must be challenged at the highest levels.
The pandemic has placed the whole of the NHS under enormous pressure and despite this, the NHS has continued to care for people, deploying staff and resources to where they’re needed most.
Throughout the pandemic, primary care has played an integral role in supporting the whole system at the same time as facing the same challenges with workforce, infection control measures and managing COVID-19 cases. It has delivered the majority of the vaccination programme (a programme which official estimates say have already prevented up to 116,200 deaths and in the region of 24.9 million infections.
Across the NHS, demand for all services is high and will remain so for the foreseeable future. In July alone, almost 28 million appointments took place in primary care in England, the majority of which were face-to-face with patients. These numbers are equivalent to what was being achieved before the pandemic.
The latest GP patient survey results do not support what is being reported in the media with 83% of patients having a good overall experience at their GP practice.
Like so much of the health service, and indeed the country, primary care was forced to change the way it works. New ways of working have been adopted, embedding technology to ensure patients could have Covid-safe appointments and peace of mind. While we know that remotely delivered care is not suitable for everyone it enables face-to-face time with clinicians to be protected for where it is clinically needed.
The pandemic has sent shockwaves across our whole healthcare system and society.
Colleagues across the NHS have worked harder than ever so it is particularly galling to see what is happening to our colleagues in primary care, a fundamental part of our NHS family and the essential foundation on which the NHS is built.
Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair, NHS Confederation
Fiona Adamson, Chair, Primary Care Federation Network
Dr Pramit Patel, Chair, PCN Network
Dr Graham Jackson, Chair, NHS Clinical Commissioners, and Senior Clinical Advisor, NHS Confederation
Dame Gill Morgan, Chair, ICS Network Advisorate
Andrew Ridley, Chair, Community Network (co-hosted with NHS Providers)
James Devine, Director of Acute Care, NHS Confederation
Paul Jenkins, Chair, Mental Health Network