Who’s to blame for 12 years of desecration of our NHS? Doctors, according to Thérèse Coffey | Polly Toynbee

Yet another new health secretary has arrived with all kinds of whizzo ideas. But, yet again, she refuses to accept that funding is the problem

Here it is: yet another plan from yet another new health secretary, the fifth in five years. After only two weeks in charge of a service near collapse, Thérèse Coffey lays down edicts, targets and expectations with, she says, a “laser-like focus on patients” – as if no one bothered with them before. Her “ABCD” mentions all the worst problems: ambulances, the backlog of operations, the social care crisis and doctors and dentists (nurses left out). But spelling them out doesn’t resolve them.

She is a stretcher-bearer with a little first aid: there’s a welcome temporary splint for the pension problem that propels experienced doctors into retirement too young. (That’s another Labour plan purloined.) Extra auxiliaries and greater use of pharmacists as prescribers are welcome, but even if that provides a million more GP appointments, that’s still only 1% more. The Tories long ago broke their 2019 manifesto promise of 6,000 extra GPs and, there are now 1,850 fewer fully qualified full-time GPs than in 2015, with 16% more patients per GP, according to Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs. He says the NHS is losing more GPs than it can recruit. Coffey threatens to name and shame practices with long waits for appointments, but GPs need “protecting not punishing”, says the Royal College of GPs president, Clare Gerada. Too many are already quitting under the strain.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

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Source : Who’s to blame for 12 years of desecration of our NHS? Doctors, according to Thérèse Coffey | Polly Toynbee