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A new contract of nothing

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Not a lot in it, is there? In what? The title race? The vote on leaving the European Union? The decision whether to give your next pleading, sniffly punter a script for amoxicillin?

Even in a contract of nothing, there’s a simmering undertone of bullying

No. The new contract. There’s not a lot in that. And that’s probably the best thing that can be said about it: it contains nothing. No QOF churn, no dumbass new DESs, no serious money, no nothing. And, based on the pressure, absurdity and micromanagement of recent new contracts, nothing is better than something.

After all, the alternative to a contract offering pretty much nothing is one that continues to punch us in the face. And the Government must have calculated that stopping the beatings might just be enough to persuade us to stay – possibly correctly, given that we’re so battered and bruised it’s hard to think straight and certainly difficult to summon up the energy to bugger off.

Even in a contract of nothing, though, there’s a simmering undertone of bullying. We will, we’re told, have to perform a six-monthly analysis of routine weekend and evening appointments – which might have us grasping for whatever phrases lie beyond ‘utterly pointless’ were it not for the discomfiting feeling that, somehow, we’re being softened up for a very nasty extended hours future.

Also, we’ll have to self-report whenever we pay over some arbitrary odds for a locum – a truly bizarre demand on self-employed contractors, who can surely pay what the hell they choose to prop up their own service, and who have to do so because of the decimating policies of the very people making this imposition.

If that’s not irony enough for you, then consider that these two new requirements come in the context of the Government’s new – though possibly mentioned every single sodding year – commitment ‘to reduce bureaucracy’.

Oh, and of course, while there will be no contractual obligation, as such, we’ll be ‘encouraged’ to adopt electronic access for patients to their own correspondence, electronic prescribing and electronic referrals. Whether this ‘encouragement’ will involve electronics applied to our genitals remains to be seen.

Overall, though, I’m pathetically happy with a contract that offers nothing, because that’s the type of crushed GP the Government has turned me into. I can just about convince myself that it does, at least, signal an end to the change-for-changes-sake-fest so beloved by health ministers, plus it allows me to catch my breath, dab the sweat from my brow and turn, momentarily, from the coalface into the light to see what’s been going on and what I can do about it.

Besides, we’ve got the eagerly anticipated package of Jezza around the corner. And while the contract’s been nothing, that could be quite something. Which is exactly what I’m afraid of.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield

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Readers' comments (14)

  • 7 day, I hate to say it, working may be necessary. Judging from the spike in activity on Fridays and Mondays alone it looks unavoidable. Not to mention the amount of OOH, WICs and A&E requests for " see usual GP on Monday" or the " do this and the other ... A routine GP service on weekends will ease a lot of pressure and as I said before, I f@cking hate to say it. I never thought I would see the day when Ivan seemed logical.

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  • Spreading the work over 7 days instead of 5 with no real increase in funding and fewer doctors has to be avoided. Unnecessary demand must be addressed rather than agree to work ourselves further into to ground. Failing this. when your 7 days are all full, what then?

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  • Surely paying the market rate for locums in a free market economy is what the Conservatives stand for. Is it possible they have swapped out for some centrist /stalinist way of working which only applies to doctors but not bankers?

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  • Curb/control unnecessary demand = pie in the sky.

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  • Tony, you simply express what we all intuitively know. GMS will be starved to death, and the new 'voluntary' contract (which will probably be the sum total of *unt's package) will have its mouth stuffed with gold in return for plenty of politicised nonsense. The Daily Fail will then tell everyone we've been given more than enough, and need to just do as we're told.

    Bend over and brace yourselves - this might hurt a bit.

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  • If I were a minister for health, I would like the best service for the least money. That is what I must do.
    It is upto GPs and the the other doctors to either accept it or walk away.No one is stopping you.
    I will always want more and more for less. Put yourselves in my shoes.
    No point ranting and raving and making derogatory personal remarks.
    Either put up or shut up or leave.

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  • Right on again Copperfield.

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  • 11.24. The Minister has a duty to his workforce as well as patients. A workforce of slaves would probably be the cheapest option.

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner23 Feb 2016 11:24am

    As a Tory he should understand supply and demand. If he wanted to reduce the price, he should have:
    1) Increased the number of GPs produced each year from the start of his tenure
    2) Enforced repayment of training costs for all GPs who leave the NHS before say, 10 years service.
    3) Provided more pension protection to ensure less leave

    This would increase the number in the system and thus the cost. Wrong approach really.

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  • It would be kind of the NHS to pay back to doctors the costs we have paid for our own training, but I think it probably an unhelpful suggestion.

    Where would the money come from? further efficiency savings?

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder