Access all hours, but income frozen
The year began as it ended – with the Department of Health demanding a freeze of GP pay.
Whether GPs will actually suffer a third successive 0% pay award next year remains to be seen, but the second freeze announced in March came as a heavy blow. Although it soon became clear there was limited appetite for any kind of industrial action, GPs cried foul and warned the freeze would mean an effective 6% pay cut.
But it was a hard sell to a generally hostile media and, despite the BMA's best efforts, GPs spent the year more spinned against than spinning.
It was all change at the top in June – new GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman described new health secretary Alan Johnson as ‘someone we can do business with' – but the Government leaks and anti-GP headlines continued unabated.
Slipping in among the Government reshuffle was a man who began the year as a respected surgeon and ended it as a controversial politician – new health minister Lord Ara Darzi.
As author of the Healthcare for London Review, published in July, Lord Darzi proposed moving the capital's GPs into a network of 150 polyclinics.
The findings of his NHS review will be revealed next year, but October's interim report gave GPs plenty to think about.
If ministers stump up the cash, they might, as Lord Darzi demanded, persuade half of practices to offer extended opening within three years.
But plans for McDonald's-style franchise surgeries? GPs are definitely not lovin' it.Anti-GP spin continued unabated throughout the year Anti-GP spin continued unabated throughout the year