Theresa May urged to tackle GPs' growing workload as leading doctor warns service is on 'brink of collapse'

'Far from the pledged investment of an extra £350m per week, audaciously plastered on double-decker buses, the reality is we’ve been cheated with the opposite,' Dr Chaand Nagpaul will say

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Theresa May has been warned to tackle the pressures facing general practitioners in England as one top doctor warns the service is on the “brink of collapse”.

Urging leading politicians to “end their callous disregard for he health needs of citizens”, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, will say the government is “turning a blind eye to the spiralling pressures” affecting the entire health and social-care systems.

In a speech in Edinburgh on Thursday at the national conference of Local Medical Communities – representing grassroots GPs – Dr Nagpaul will highlight the mounting workloads and staff shortages, adding practices have become “frighteningly vulnerable”.

He will add that the health service has been “paralysed” by the vote to leave the European Union.

“Far from the pledged investment of an extra £350m per week, audaciously plastered on double-decker buses, the reality is we’ve been cheated with the opposite: a deep freeze in NHS spend, continued savage austerity cuts and with politicians turning a blind eye to spiralling pressures affecting the entire health and social care system,” Mr Nagpaul will say.

Data available from NHS England in April showed that 92 practices closed in 2016 – a record number – forcing patients to find a new surgery.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told The Independent that the Conservatives have “utterly failed” to support GPs in England, adding the party “overseen an unprecedented GP workforce crisis in which ordinary people have suffered, unable to readily access their local service”.

Labour’s manifesto – published earlier this week – pledges to increase funding to GP services to “ensure patients can access the care they need”. On Thursday, the Prime Minister will outline her party’s plans for the health service as she launches the Conservative manifesto ahead of the general election in three weeks’ time.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat’s health spokesperson, added that instead of injecting £350m a week into the health service, it is being gradually run into the ground. “Patients across the country are struggling to get appointments with their GP – but Theresa May doesn’t care,” he added.

“The NHS cannot take five years of a Conservative landslide that would give Theresa May free rein to cut services further at your local hospital. The Liberal Democrats offer a brighter future with a penny on income tax to rescue the NHS and care.”

Dr Nagpaul will also highlight the "avalanche of work" and a service that is "several thousand GPs short", adding: “The plight of general practice remains parlous and on the brink of collapse.

“Individual practices have become frighteningly vulnerable, with one in 10 surveyed by the BMA saying they're not sustainable and we've witnessed record numbers of practice closures - not surprising with one in three practices unable to fill GP vacancies.

"Even a seemingly secure practice is just one retiring partner away from setting off a domino effect which could lead to collapse.”

Dr Nagpaul will call on GPs to “resurrect their Darwinian survival instinct”, but will add: “The real solution is a political one – in which politicians must end their callous disregard of the health needs of citizens in an NHS that shamefully trails Europe in its funding, numbers of doctors and infrastructure.

“The only solution is for government to increase NHS funding to adequate levels, in which general practice receives a fair and larger share.”

His warnings come after doctors, academics and public health officials have called on the Conservative Party to include in its general election manifesto a commitment to spend £350m a week on the NHS, in keeping with the notorious posters of the Vote Leave campaign.