Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has addressed the new prime minister Boris Johnson in a letter, outlining the College’s concerns around protection of the NHS, and no-deal Brexit among other things.
In her letter, she calls on Johnson – who in his inaugural speech as prime minister said that it is his job to make sure people don’t have to wait three weeks for a GP appointment – to deliver on previous Government commitments to recruit 5,000 more GPs, and take action to retain existing family doctors in the profession, so that patients can get a GP appointment when they need one.
She spelled it out: “General practice is the first point of contact with our health service for over a million of patients every day – in turn alleviating pressures across the rest of the NHS – but it is under immense strain…we are at least 6,000 GPs short in England.”
She also highlights the College’s concerns around the negative impact a no-deal Brexit will have on the sustainability of the NHS, and the care patients receive, writing: “We cannot risk the potential disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit. This could hamper the recruitment and retention of vitally needed NHS staff, and lead to uncertainty over the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which enable us to recruit doctors from the EEA.”
Johnson also took a moment in his speech to announced that he wants to revisit and potentially reverse one of the Cameron government’s main public-health policies, the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks.
Professor Stokes-Lampard responded, saying that “Given the current obesity crisis, it is vital that we adopt and maintain a society-wide approach to preventing ill-health… [the levies] have widespread support across the health sector and rolling them back could have a devasting impact on public health – potentially harming millions of people.”
Boris’ choice to reverse the sugar tax coincided with the release of a report from Cancer Research UK that found that excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking.
The RCGP officially opposes the UK's exit from the European Union following a decision by its governing Council in November 2018.