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Leading GP warns of lack of doctors under government NHS plan at Islington meeting

'We face potential fragmentation of services with GPs no longer being the first point contact for patients but paramedics and pharmacists instead'

15 March, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Dr Gary Marlowe far right at Islington Town Hall

A LEADING GP has warned of the lack of doctors and the “fragmentation” of the health service under new plans introduced by the Government.

Dr Gary Marlowe, a working GP and chairman of the British Medical Association London, warned of the incoming system of “local primary care networks” set to be rolled out throughout the country by 2021.

Dr Marlowe was speaking at a meeting organised by Islington Keep Our NHS Public in the main chamber of the Town Hall on Monday night.

This new system will see the creation of a network of healthcare professionals including GPs, pharmacists and physiotherapists to cater for the needs of 30,000 to 50,000 patients in one area.

Dr Marlowe said some areas were planning “large super practices” in order to create the network.

But Dr Marlowe warned that these networks would see a “fragmentation” of services with GPs no longer being the first point contact for patients but paramedics and pharmacists instead.

“You won’t be seen by a doctor and then moved on. These new networks will affect the continuity of care, such as the continuity between a doctor and a patient. This fragmentation of care will necessitate more and more time and effort. With patients having to tell their story over and over again. There will be fragmentation for patients and professionals,” he said.

Dr Marlowe highlighted the “amazing benefit in the relationship between a patient and a doctor” which would be diminished under the new system.

He said: “Our local plans might be subsumed by a national directive which pushes us towards an industrialised offer which is predicated on the mistaken belief that if we increase access in primary care and we have more professionals allied to medicine such as physios all will be well and we’ll get around the problem of not enough doctors in primary care. We are moving away from a humane form of medicine. I fear there is a schism developing in the NHS between science and the technology of medicine and the art of medicine.”

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