Hundreds of patients, doctors, and nurses are tweeting about their unsung #GPHeroes after a newspaper column claimed GP surgeries were replaceable.
Sarah Baxter, deputy editor of the Sunday Times, claimed she would not notice if her local surgery went on strike, prompting hundreds to post examples of when their GPs had gone above and beyond in their care for patients.
The hashtag was started by junior doctor Roshana Mehdian:
Mehdian told BuzzFeed News she felt the the article was "inflammatory" and claimed Baxter had not "grasped the difficulties in the NHS; let alone the huge struggle GPs are facing with an unmanageable workload at the moment".
She started the hashtag after seeing her GP colleagues "battered" by the press and politicians.
"Everything is their fault apparently, not the governments who won't properly invest in services," she said.
"They can't shut their doors or declare emergency status like hospitals do. They just have to get on with it. They are broken, they are demoralised."
Baxter claimed “GPs increasingly act as though serving patients is something of an imposition".
She suggested instead of abolishing pharmacies – citing figures that around 1 in 4 face closure as a result of government cuts to their funding – the expertise of nurses and pharmacists should be combined in "walk-in medical centres".
"I'd rather abolish the GPs and save the pharmacies," she wrote.
While nurse and pharmacy-led clinics already exist, Mehdian notes they are unable to cope with much of the complex work handled daily by GPs.
She continued: "It is because of people making statements like hers that more and more junior doctors lean away from a career in GP and more and more GPs are leaving."
GPs recently claimed their workload is leaving surgeries in a “state of emergency” with doctors struggling to devote time to complicated cases as they were forced to see as many as 70 patients every day.
"To put it simply, it is not safe to carry on the way we are," Dr Chaand Nagpaul, head of the BMA's GP's committee chairman, told the special conference of Local Medical Committees on Monday.
Freedom of Information requests last month revealed at least 100 surgeries applied to stop accepting new patients last year after struggling to fill staff shortages.
"GP services are reaching breaking point as they struggle to cope with rising patient demand, falling resources and a shortage of GPs," Dr Chaand Nagpul told the BBC.
Despite the shortfall, many praised the care they received from their local GPs.
GPs also tweeted to draw attention to the long hours they work.
With their families pointing out they didn't see serving patients as "something of an imposition".
The Royal College of General Practitioners said GPs continued to be vital and trusted members of their local communities.
"Far from wanting our service abolished, our patients want more care and services delivered by general practice teams in the community, close to their homes," Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College, said in a statement to BuzzFeed.
"We are only too well aware of the difficulties some patients are experiencing in trying to get a GP appointment but this is not because we aren't working hard enough, or not offering more appointments.
"Rather than being constantly besmeared in the media, we need urgent investment in general practice, including thousands more GPs, so that we can deliver the care our patients need and deserve, without putting our own health - and their safety - at risk."
Meanwhile, on Monday the BMA voted to go ahead with planned industrial action on 10 February after failing to agree with the government over new contract negotiations for junior doctors.
Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at Rose.Buchanan@BuzzFeed.com.
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