Theresa May accused of ‘playing down’ NHS crisis and ‘scapegoating’ GPs

The BMA’s chairman, Dr Mark Porter, said the underfunding of the NHS and “salami slicing” has led to a situation where patients’ lives and wellbeing are being put at risk.

On Saturday, Downing Street warned GPs in England who refuse to open surgeries from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week will lose funding unless they can prove there is no demand from patients.

It sees GPs as part of the solution to easing the pressure on A&E departments by offering more appointments to patients.

But the BMA has accused Number 10 of scapegoating doctors and said one in three GP practices have unfilled vacancies and eight in 10 GPs feel so overstretched they are unable to provide safe care.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, also said the Prime Minister’s intervention was “extremely unfortunate” and the plans were “misguided”.

Figures out on Friday showed m ore than four in 10 hospitals in England declared a major alert in the first week of the year

Some 65 out of 152 trusts raised the alarm as bed shortages intensified and A&E departments became overwhelmed.

Overall, NHS hospitals issued 222 serious alerts in six days, saying they were experiencing major pressures – around six times higher than the previous six days.

In his letter, Dr Porter called for a meeting with Mrs May, adding: “I have been horrified to see the position which you have taken in responding to the current crisis in the NHS in England.

Full story in The Shropshire Star 17 January 2016