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GP services ‘face huge crisis as staff numbers plunge’

FRONTLINE health services provided by GPs are heading for collapse, one of the country’s most senior doctors warned yesterday.

British Medical Association (BMA) general practitioners’ committee chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul called on the government to “wake up” to the alarming reality that the number of doctors in local surgeries is about to plummet through retirement and GPs choosing to work overseas.

And he said the Conservatives were likely to “fail dismally” to keep their election pledge to recruit 5,000 new doctors.

Dr Nagpaul described the problem as “not just a perfect storm but an absolute hurricane” as he and his overstretched colleagues are “fundamentally paying the price of years of government neglect and progressive defunding of general practice.”

He issued his warning during a speech to GPs at the annual conference of the BMA local medical committee in London.

The Tories also plan to impose seven-days-a-week services on already stretched general practitioners while introducing further privatisation of the NHS.

Dr Nagpaul called upon Prime Minister David Cameron to “jettison the political pipedreams of tomorrow and get real about how we resource, resuscitate and rebuild general practice today.”

A recent BMA survey found one in three GPs intends to retire in the next five years and one in five trainees plans to leave Britain to work abroad.

“It’s absolutely pointless promising 5,000 extra GPs within this Parliament if we lose 10,000 GPs retiring in the same period,” Dr Nagpaul said.

Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne added: “David Cameron’s plans for a seven-day NHS are simply not credible without the extra resources and staff the NHS needs — particularly in areas like general practice, where the Tories have created a GP workforce crisis.”

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