Professors warn of 'tsunami' approaching GP services in aftermath of pandemic
Healthcare academics have warned of a “tsunami” of work that faces primary care services in the aftermath of the pandemic. Pent-up demand threatens to overwhelm services and will need to be addressed by Government as part of its plan for healthcare to recover in the wake of the crisis, the experts say. Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, praised the role of GPs in the UK’s vaccination campaign. Of the 15 million vaccinations offered to date, 75% have been administered at GP sites. The roll-out of inoculations through GP clinics has been a success story that has “delivered massively”.
Professor Rebecca Malby, professor of health systems innovation at London South Bank University, has urged Government to act on the ramifications of the pandemic now in order to tackle the rising challenge of procedure back-logs and inaccessibility of healthcare among deprived population groups. Government should begin “focusing on the 'upstream' issues that it's their role to sort, because the tsunami of demand that's coming into general practice, particularly around young people, is absolutely shocking”, advised Professor Malby. Challenges for primary care include reaching younger age groups such as those aged 7 to 24 years old and also those in deprived communities. Professor Malby remarked that Government should “face up” to complicity in not providing universal healthcare in the United Kingdom. Too many people were "falling through the cracks", she said. Barriers to healthcare access, such as education or travel to clinics, should be removed to avoid younger and vulnerable patients “falling through the cracks”. Professor Malby encourages the empowerment of deprived communities to take care of their own health and that there is a lack of resources among these groups regarding healthcare.
The NHS budget for primary care has dropped over the past two decades. The experts advise that the level of investment in GP services continues to drop and sits at around 9% at present. "Really good effective integrated care systems spend 20 to 25% of their total budget on primary care. That's the kind of figure that we need to be looking for”, commented Professor Malby.