Socialist Worker

NHS plans drive out a third of doctors

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2251

Local doctors are so frustrated with the government’s NHS “reforms” that they are leaving general practice in droves.

That is the shock conclusion of a survey published last week that shows that more than a third of GPs are planning to quit in the next five years—a sharp increase.

Many cite stress and long hours as their reasons. But, says the doctors’ magazine Pulse, it is the Tories’ health and social care bill that has pushed most over the edge.

It reveals that 71 percent of those questioned think morale has fallen as a direct result of the plans.

North London GP Ron Singer is one of many who blame yet another “top-down reorganisation” for the growing confidence crisis.


“There’s a widespread feeling among GPs that if the government gets its way then the NHS has had it,” he told Socialist Worker.

“If you are a doctor in your 50s, this is the fifth major reorganisation you’ve worked through. Each one has weakened the ethos of a National Health Service and made it worse for health workers and patients.

“With the private sector breathing down our necks, the pressure is always to do things faster and cheaper. We are now expected to limit our average time with a patient to just ten minutes.

“How can we get a case history and proper discussion of treatment in that time? There’s simply no more slack in the system. Yet, with £20 billion ‘efficiency savings’ beinglfrom page one demanded, it can only get worse.”

Ron can understand why so many doctors are giving up, but worries that by leaving they will play into the government’s hands.

“The Tories will use any crisis as an excuse for even more privatisation,” he says.

“They have wanted to bring in private sector firms to run GP practices for a long time.

“They will employ doctors on lower pay and worse conditions—and then use them to undercut NHS staff.

“They want a race to the bottom and the only way to stop them is to join protests against the Tory plans.


“If there’s going to be a fightback, it’s going to come from the bottom up—not from the leaders of the doctors’ organisations.

“Health workers and users coming together in local groups is the way to show our strength.

“That’s why next week’s demonstration against the health bill in London is so important.”

Our health service not for sale—March to save the NHS, Tuesday 17 May. Assemble 5.30pm, University College Hospital, Gower Street, London WC1.

March to the Department of Health, Whitehall.

Called by London Keep Our NHS Public, backed by the Unite union. Health workers should wear their uniforms.

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Article information

Tue 10 May 2011, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2251
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