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GPs issue ultimatums in unpaid work rows

The new contract has failed to deliver on its high-profile pledge to restore GPs' control over their working lives, Pulse's Agenda 2005 survey shows.

GPs are still struggling to cope with spiralling workload, with 71 per cent of the 1,000 GPs in the survey expressing concern over the issue.

A similar proportion ­ 74 per cent ­ demanded more support to help them say No to unpaid work.

Two-thirds ­ 66 per cent ­ said sorting out the mess over enhanced services would also help and 68 per cent demanded action to stop consultants dumping work on them.

Just 1 per cent of GPs said they were 'not at all' concerned about their workload.

Concern over excessive work was equally strong among male and female GPs and those working under GMS and PMS contracts.

But levels of anxiety rose with age, with 44 per cent of GPs over 50 rating their concern over workload at 5 out of 5, compared with only 24 per cent of those under 35.

Concern was also more marked among principals (41 per cent rating their concern at 5) than among salaried GPs (33 per cent) and locums (28 per cent).

Inner-city and suburban GPs were significantly more worried about workload (44 per cent of each group rating their concern at 5 out of 5) than their rural colleagues (29 per cent).

Dr Russell Ellwood, a GP in Hull, demanded extra payments any time a GP sees more than 40 patients in a day.

'I easily see 48 patients in a day,' he said. 'No matter how many doctors we manage to secure, demand always outstrips supply.'

Dr Ellwood said he was getting more and more requests from consultants over shared-care drug monitoring, adding: 'I am very unhappy about it but I am not keen on stopping it because then the patient suffers.'

Dr Joseph Booker, a GP in Coventry, said: 'Every single thing a GP does should be priced. Everything we are expected to do must be put in the global sum ­ and anything else added on.'

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