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Stephen Dorrell on GPs, the NHS and the Care System

December 3, 2019 11:30 AM

Stephen Dorrell, Lib Dem candidate for Buckingham constituency, answering a question on providing more for GPs in Buckinghamshire at the Buckingham University hustings, 28/11:

I'd be very keen to see increased numbers of GPs. How do you do that? Well, you need to invest in training through the medical schools. You also have to have a migration policy which recognises where there are shortages, and you have to ensure that this is a country that is welcoming to people with medical qualifications from all over the world.

Actually, there is good reason to do that, not just in order to make certain we've got enough doctors and nurses and professionals to deliver our health and care system. Our health and care system has always been, throughout its post-war history, and probably before as well, enriched by having foreign doctors, foreign nurses, working here. And some of our doctors, and our nurses going to work in other countries in order to have a more diverse, a better, more broad-based experience.

So I'm in favour of ensuring that we continue to have an open door across the range of the health care professions. It's also, since we're talking about GPs, important to make the point that it isn't just about GPs; if you want to deliver primary care, the secret is in the word. It isn't just about GPs; it's about pharmacists, about nurses and critically it's about social care. Today is the day when the Association of Directors of [Adult] Social Services are reporting than in 90% of cases that they are worried they won't be able to maintain the quality of social care this winter.

Now it's no good investing in GPs and undermining the security of social care, because that's what delivers the care support for the medicine delivered by the National Health Service. We need to think of it as a joined up health and care system. The thing that makes me cross, having been involved in the healthcare system for the last twenty-five years, is virtue signalling by politicians. People say "Of course we care, we're great champions of the National Health Service"; if you really care about health, other than just the treatment of acute illness, what you should be concerned about is the quality of the full range of public services: social housing, education, social care, the full range of public services, because that's what creates demand for the Health Service when they are not maintained at the level they should be they should be.

Stephen Dorrell was Secretary of State for Health from July 1995 to May 1997. He has been chairman of the NHS Confederation, a membership body for organisations that commission and provide National Health Service services since 2015.


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