Fury at Department of Health anti-GP spin
By Steve Nowottny
GPs reacted angrily this week after an apparent leak of misleading workload statistics by the Department of Health prompted fears that the Government is still hell-bent on attacking the profession.
The GP workload survey was released by the Information Centre but not before The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail had been given headline figures apparently showing that GP hours were down 15%, while pay was up 25%, compared with three years ago.
GPs, who feel they have been the victim of relentless Government spin, awoke to stories such as the Daily Mail's article claiming the official figures ' proved doctors are raking in more for less work'.
However, the survey actually showed that after excluding out-of-hours services, which GPs do not have responsibility for as part of the new contract, they were working a very similar number of hours as when a previous survey was undertaken 15 years ago.
It also showed that the average length of surgery consultation with GPs had increased by 40% in that same period.
Dr Fay Wilson, a GP in Birmingham and chair of the recent LMCs conference, accused the Government of continuing its campaign to undermine GPs, despite promises that health secretary Alan Johnson would work with members of the medical profession.
'It's clearly part of a campaign to rubbish independent contractor GPs and we¹re fed up with it,' She said. 'If it's part of a softening-up process it¹s not going to work. They're not going to be softened up, they're going to be hardened up.' The national newspaper reports prompted the Information Centre, which also published figures on GP consultation trends this week, to issue a release strongly denying the reports were based on its figures.
Mr Fraser Woodward, its head of media, told Pulse: 'We don't know where they got that data from, but we're pretty sure it's inaccurate. The report has been produced in conjunction with the Department of Health, the BMA and NHS Employers.
'It's not in our interests to leak things. You can perhaps guess in whose interests it might have been to leak it.' The department denied it was responsible for the leak.The hours GPs are working