Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 October 2021

Tories to blame for GP crisis

Striking junior doctors, photo Paul Mattsson

Striking junior doctors, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, Secretary, Unite Nottinghamshire health (personal capacity)

The UK's Covid hospitalisation rate is currently six times higher than other large European countries. Over five million people are waiting for NHS treatment. This could rise to between nine and 14 million by autumn 2022, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Growing frustration at the failures of the system is understandable when patients and their families can't get the appointments, treatment and care they need. Anger can overflow and be directed at NHS staff. Ambulance staff and paramedics face the same fury after long delays caused by hold-ups unloading patients. Tempers flare in A&E, where increased security measures have been needed.

Trying to shift the spotlight from its disastrous record, Johnson's government aims to blame general practice. The Tories' loyal friends, the Daily Telegraph and Mail, have helped whip up this vicious campaign.

Years of NHS cuts in real terms, while the ageing population's needs increase, meant the situation was grim before the pandemic. Tory and New Labour 'reforms' massively increased GP workloads, much of it linked to data collecting to help push through piecemeal NHS privatisation.

Hypocritical ministers

Last year the Tories were happy to clap NHS heroes. Now hypocritical ministers and newspaper editors imply these same workers are lazy failures. GP practices did a third more clinical administrative work - including prescriptions and referral letters - and 8% more appointments this May compared with May 2019. Covid vaccination work is on top of that.

In May when new Covid infections had fallen to 2,000 a day, the Mail on Sunday began a campaign: "Let us all see our GPs face to face again".

In August and September, a Daily Telegraph columnist made poisonous attacks - claiming that GPs were "hiding" and "improving their work-life balance while making everyone else's worse."

Three-quarters of GPs report increased abuse. Receptionists are particularly exposed. In August, a Lincolnshire GP was almost blinded when an explosive device was thrown in his face. In September, four staff members at a Manchester GP practice were attacked, two of them hospitalised with serious head injuries. Earlier this month, staff at a Burton-on-Trent branch surgery walked out for two days as abuse reached intolerable levels.

Staff stress is widespread - half of all GPs report burnout, anxiety and depression. Early retirement, going part-time or leaving altogether leaves a growing shortage of GP staff, medical and non-medical. The number of fully trained full-time-equivalent GPs fell by 1,876 between 2015 and 2020.

Face-to-face consultations are essential in many situations and much preferred by many patients and doctors. But it can also be more convenient to speak on the phone rather than take a half-day off work and go to the medical centre.

In 2018, profit-making company Babylon set up 'GP at Hand' - an online NHS GP practice that cherry-picked mostly young, fit and tech-savvy patients, including then health secretary Matt Hancock. He described it as "revolutionary - it works brilliantly for so many patients and goes with the grain of how people access modern services. I want to see GP at Hand available to all." Where was the outcry from the Telegraph, Mail and Tory MPs then?

And where was their outcry about giant US corporation Centene taking over 58 GP practices covering 500,000 patients? Its UK chief medical officer enthusiastically described how phone and video consultations had become "normalised" last year and these changes needed to proceed faster.

The future for general practice, if controlled by profit-seeking corporations, will be remote call centres, with less skilled and lower paid staff, supplemented by fewer, more distant clinics.

Instead, there must be sufficient GPs, nurses and other health professionals to ensure everyone gets the care they need. We need an NHS that funds local, easily accessible health centres, as part of fully funded community health services, publicly owned and democratically controlled by those who use and work in them.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 20 October 2021:


Fight for a socialist recovery

Tories to blame for GP crisis

Container delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

Socialist nationalisation not bailouts for the bosses

Workplace news

Unite union policy conference

University workers ballot for strike action

Unite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

Gwent valleys Stagecoach bus drivers strike for fair pay

Reinstate Gary Evans! Llanelli postal workers strike

Napo AGM 2021: Union placed on war footing

Scunthorpe scaffs strike for pay

People's budgets

People's Budgets - a socialist answer to cruel cuts

Brighton bin workers' victory in sight

Fight to defend homelessness services

Ealing People's Budget - cuts can be resisted

Northampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

Fighting the cuts at the ballot box in Liverpool

Fall of apartheid

The fall of Apartheid in South Africa

Climate change

COP26: Trade unions must fight for a socialist transition to renewables

Save the planet from capitalist climate catastrophe


Austria: Chancellor Kurz resigns amid allegations of corruption


Obituary - Tony Davison: "I work for Militant, but Laing's pay my wages"


"Are you the socialist cabby?"

Housing crisis: Tories and Labour are not on our side

Liverpool arms fair: Hundreds of protesters defy police 'dispersal zone'

Hackney children's centres - more education cuts are devastating

Biggest protest yet to save Stratford Circus

Doncaster: Vigil condemns violence against women

Readers' opinion

I'm unemployed: For me vacancy crisis is a lie

TV review: Squid Game


Home   |   The Socialist 20 October 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleTV review: This is Going to Hurt

trianglePrivatisation and crisis in the NHS

triangleBarts NHS workers to walk out again on 28 February

triangleBarts NHS strike

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: NHS and social care in crisis


triangleTories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history

triangleTories' 'partygate' crisis continues - kick them out

triangleTories' 'levelling up' falls well short

triangleTories attack UC recipients with 'get any job' threat


triangleCuts created NHS waiting list crisis

triangleNI rise piled onto shoulders of the lowest paid

triangleNHS mandatory vaccination to be ditched


triangleKeep private hands off NHS patient data

triangleWomen's health matters


triangleJohnson scraps Covid safety measures


triangleUnder the microscope

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



The Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party



Vote Nellist for a workers' MP in Erdington



Unite and fight for a decent pay rise



Privatisation and crisis in the NHS



Johnson scraps Covid safety measures



Tories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history



Bus services under threat



PCS Elections 2022: Time for new union leadership



Britain's economic growth figures mask fragile false recovery



Covid: Fight for full sick pay



'Labour by name - Tory by policy'



Tory stealth taxes burden 'packhorse generation'



Left Labour MPs under pressure over Erdington



Neither Washington, London nor Moscow



Met police boss ousted

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022