Tory health chief Jeremy Hunt has been accused of backtracking on his pre-election pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs by 2020.
He made the vow in the run-up to May 7 but last week stated the plan would need some flexibility because of difficulties recruiting trainee family doctors in some areas of the country.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, of the British Medical Association, said: “Delivering 5,000 extra GPs in five years, when the training of a GP takes 10 years, was never going to be achieved.”
He had already warned the government is likely to ‘fail dismally’ in its election pledge to recruit 5,000 extra doctors.
The problem is ‘not just a perfect storm, but an absolute hurricane’ as he and his over-stretched colleagues are ‘fundamentally paying the price of years of Government neglect and progressive de-funding of general practice’.
In a speech to GPs at the annual Local Medical Committee (LMC) conference in London, Dr Nagpaul said this ‘unashamed starvation of general practice has come as GPs have taken on the greatest growth in volume of care compared to any other sector in the NHS, seeing an estimated 40 million more patients annually compared to five years ago’.
He said the problem is only set to get worse with the rapidly-ageing population meaning there will be an estimated one million more patients who will have three or more long-term medical conditions in a decade.
Criticising the Tories’ pledge to create a seven-days-a-week service, he said: ‘This is not just a perfect storm, but an absolute hurricane. And a hurricane that will destroy the whole fabric of the NHS if the Government does not act swiftly, since if its foundation that’s general practice collapses, everything above it collapses too.
‘Now the election is out of the way, I call upon the Prime Minister to jettison the political pipedreams of tomorrow and get real about how we resource, resuscitate and rebuild general practice today.
‘It’s absolutely pointless promising 5,000 extra GPs within this parliament if we lose 10,000 GPs retiring in the same period.’