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British general practitioner chief condemned “malicious criticism” and “defamation” of ministers against family doctors amid a furious reaction by the profession to government demands for them to increase face-to-face appointments to face.

GP leaders said a “blueprint” to improve general practice would do little to ease the intense pressure on surgeries and exacerbate the chronic shortage of family doctors by providing more incentives to quit smoking.

Their criticisms were echoed by former Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said the government’s plan would fail and instead urged Sajid Javid to launch a major recruitment drive to increase the number of GPs.

It came as Javid, the Health Secretary, withdrew at the last minute from a scheduled appearance at the annual conference of the Royal College of GPs in Liverpool, amid growing anger from family doctors over the his inability to take the decisive action they sought to reduce the workload. .

His non-appearance prompted claims he was afraid of general practitioners. The Health Secretary has instead chosen to make a series of media appearances in London. He then went to a GP practice in South East London where he praised the doctors for their “amazing job”.

Professor Martin Marshall, president of the college, expressed the frustration of general practitioners in his speech at the event. He said GPs “unwittingly find themselves at the center of a public storm over face-to-face appointments.”

“The malicious criticisms of the profession by some sections of the media and some politicians following the shift to remote working – introduced to ensure the safety of our patients and our teams and to keep the service operational – have been the worst of which I remember. over 30 years as a general practitioner, ”he said.

“This widespread vilification of hard-working GPs and our teams is unfair, demoralizing and indefensible. No one who works in general medicine deserves this abuse.

He did not name any politician. However, in recent weeks Javid, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson have all made it clear that they expect GPs to see more patients in person and resume their working methods before. pandemic, despite the continued threat of Covid-19.