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Campaign Blog from Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners

Please see below, recent blog from the Royal College of General Practitioners

Dear all
We have been actively gaining support and raising awareness of the Put patients first: Back general practice campaign on social media, within the health community and with our politicians.

Our first campaign Twitter chat

I recently hosted my first Twitter chat for this campaign. Thanks to everyone who got involved – you asked some great questions and sent hundreds of tweets. This enabled us to reach nearly two million twitter accounts in the week alone with #putpatientsfirst. I would particularly like to thank David Nicholson for getting involved, it is wonderful that our campaign message is getting through to NHS England. The media also picked up on it – GP Online wrote about it beforehand and joined in the discussion, and we had support from the Guardian Health Network. If you missed out on the Twitter chat, you can watch it on our Storify.

Posters and badges!

I am also pleased to say that we have now completed a UK wide mail out to all GP surgeries and walk-in centres, informing them of the campaign and providing them with posters and badges to display to patients. These have proved to be a huge hit around the nation with many people requesting more! If you would like posters, please download them from the resources page on the website.

Campaign support increases

We are also continuing to gain support from other health organisations. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recently wrote a blog for the campaign, which you can read here. This month we have also had The College of Social Work, The Family Doctors Association and The Lullaby Trust join the campaign! Thank you to all the organisations that are supporting us, it reinforces that an underinvestment in general practice is impacting all sectors of the community.

Campaigning CCGs

As was mentioned to you in a previous campaign update, we have written to all CCGs asking them to inform us about how they use the funding from two upcoming initiatives – the Better Care Fund and the implementation of a ‘named clinician’ for vulnerable older people. We have informed them of the campaign and are urging them invest in local practices so that they can deliver enhanced care for patients in the community. If there is anything you can do to influence CCGs in your community, I encourage you to do so.

Political engagement

The campaign team are also keeping me busy by lining up meetings with various politicians – if I am not in surgery I more than likely spending my time at the Palace of Westminster,  reinforcing the general practice crisis and discussing the need to turn this situation around. The results? Many politicians are supportive of the campaign and are even keen to visit GP surgeries to experience what it is like on the front-line.

Politicians are also responding to the letters you’re sending them via the campaign website. For example, Austin Mitchell MP wrote to Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Quality, on behalf of his constituent. Earl Howe responded by saying:

“We recognise the central role that GPs have to play in helping to keep people healthy, to manage their long-term health needs and reduce the need for hospital admissions. In 2014 we will set out plans for improving care for vulnerable older people, including the central role that GPs have to play in helping people to stay healthy and live independently.”

If you haven’t written to your local politician yet, I urge you to do so here.

All this support is very encouraging, but it is critical that we see action and results. In order to achieve a shift in the budget from 8.39% to 11% by 2017, we must see a 1% shift in funding towards general practice in the 2014/15 budgets.

For English based supporters, now is the time to act – over the next few months NHS England will be deciding on how to allocate this budget – and you can help influence their priorities by writing to the Chief Executive of NHS England, David Nicholson, using our online tool

Thank you all for your ongoing support, I believe that together we will be able to turn the future of patient care around.

Best wishes

Maureen Baker

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