By Jackie Turner, GP in East London
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GP slams May’s comments on the NHS crisis

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Issue 2536
Protesters for the NHS in North Devon in August
Protesters for the NHS in North Devon in August (Pic: Save Our Hospital Services)

It’s outrageous that Theresa May has said GPs should do more to take up the slack for what’s happening in accident and emergency units.

The whole of the NHS is in crisis, we’re all under stress and underfunded—it’s not just hospitals. 

We have fewer doctors, fewer nurses and fewer beds per head than any other developed country. 

General Practice is already struggling. A recent survey by the British Medical Association’s general practitioners’ committee (GPC) found that 84 percent of GPs are worried we can’t provide safe care. 

The Tory government is trying to deflect blame onto those who are working really hard—but the blame lies at their door. 

Jackie Turner

Jackie Turner

I had my hip replaced two days ago. The care has been fantastic, health workers go the extra mile even though they’re under pressure and understaffed. 

But GPs cannot take up the slack. 


Our days vary a lot depending on where we work, but I know plenty of GPs working 12 to 14 hours a day without a break. 

Surgeries are closing because GPs are leaving and young doctors aren’t coming in because General Practice is talked down. Some GPs are seeing 60 patients a day—people are burning out and leaving.

It is essential for NHS to have General Practice. Some 90 percent of patient contact is done by us—that’s about 340 million patient contacts a year. We’re already keeping people out of hospital if they don’t need to go to get care there. 

There are already GPs in A&E, who can send patients to the right place.

The huge cuts to local councils’ social care services also mean that people cannot be discharged because there just aren’t the social care packages. That’s why there’s such a big crisis in A&E at the moment. 

They have gone for us because we’re an easy target. 

If we keep absorbing all the slack, the government will just continue to put more pressure on us.

We’re not easily organised,

Some people, like me, say we should be working to rule. But a lot of GPs are worried about that. 

The Tories’ ultimate aim is privatisation and bringing in an insurance-based health service—so they’re trying to drive people away and get people to resign. 

Some argue that we should tender mass resignations in protest—I’m against that because the government could just bring in a private company. 

We should be telling people that we can’t provide safe care and closing our lists to new patients. It would be painful for us, but that’s what will ensure safe care and get the government to listen.  

If we keep absorbing all the slack, the government will just continue to put more pressure on us. 

We’ve all got to be on the 4 March demonstration to defend the NHS. But we also need to be involved in our local health campaigns and talking to patients and getting them involved

We have to tell Theresa May “No—it’s not safe for our patients”. If she insists, we have to take more radical action by closing our lists. 

This is the first time May’s wading into the NHS. Before it was left to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt. It shows that this is all part of the Tory government’s agenda to destroy the NHS.

For details of the 4 March demonstration go to



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