Letters - Tuesday, December 14, 2021

We have fewer GPs to meet the demand

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 3:45 pm
Doctor

Fewer GPs ultimately means fewer family doctors able to provide patients with the care they need. In the last six years, we’ve lost the equivalent of 1,744 full-time, fully qualified GPs – with 40 more having now left the workforce in the last month, a total of 321 since last December alone.

All GPs and their teams want to be able to provide is the best care that meets their patients’ needs, but they are increasingly unable to meet complexity and demand in a way that is timely, effective and ultimately, safe – for patients or themselves.

We know that GPs and their teams continue to work harder than ever before. For example, the number of standard appointments – that’s excluding Covid vaccination appointments - rose by 1.8m from September to October alone to 30m However, the fewer doctors we have, the more they are expected to take on between them, and by doing so push themselves further into exhaustion. The last 20 months have seen GPs go to incredible lengths for their patients. We are committed to working with Government and policymakers to create and deliver solutions that focus on recruiting, training, and retaining doctors who have the energy and time needed to provide the highest quality of care.

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Dr Farah Jameel

British Medical Association

HEALTH

We have to keep trust in vaccines

Public trust in the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has grown throughout 2021; however, the emergence of the Omicron variant has cast a shadow on the fine line between sensible caution and overreaction when it comes to public health policies.

As the Government urges the population to receive booster jabs as soon as possible, it is crucial it closely evaluates public sentiment to ensure trust in vaccines remains high and address potential exposure to misinformation.

This is especially important for groups who have felt more marginalised during the pandemic, including ethnic minorities, the differently abled, and those who were hesitant or had delayed receiving their first vaccine.

It is among these groups where deterioration of vaccine confidence is more likely to occur, as they might be more prone to experience ‘vaccine fatigue’ and diminishing levels of trust in the underlying science.

The risk is that existing health inequalities are compounded, and that these groups lose confidence in the wider healthcare systems.

The challenge is that, while vaccines may scientifically present the best line of defence against Covid-19, they are not foolproof, and this is where the risk of misinformation lies.

Public engagement with vaccines therefore has two distinct social components: the first is the way we regard the safety, efficacy, and importance of vaccines; and the second is how we react to policies which provide extra safeguards around the spread of Covid-19.

To address this challenge, the Government must commit to research that understands public response to vaccine engagement and health education, while promoting a balanced delivery system that is centred on equity and compromise.

Dr Melissa Jogie

Senior Lecturer,

APPEAL

Pets are now at increased risk

PDSA is appealing for help this winter so that it can continue to be here for pets, like they’ve been here for us throughout the pandemic – providing comfort, companionship and love during these uncertain times.

The charity provides free and low cost vet care for those who struggle to pay treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. It’s vital that pets and their owners can access our life-saving services and get the treatment they deserve, when they have nowhere else to turn.

Pets have done so much to improve our health and wellbeing, but now they are at increased risk - with 2.9 million more people claiming Universal Credit than before the pandemic and the cost of living crisis squeezing household budgets, we know that many pet owners will be unable to afford essential veterinary treatment.

Since the first UK lockdown began, we’ve already seen an overwhelming increase of additional enquiries from pet owners who have hit hard times. Our dedicated vet teams have carried out more than one million phone consultations, performed over 37,000 emergency operations and 76,000 x-rays for pets in desperate need since March 2020.

Please donate today and help save pets’ lives – www.pdsa.org.uk/pdsa-chance

Lynne James

PDSA Vet

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