GPs need shoulder problems guide
By Emily Wright
Fears are mounting over a potential public health disaster after GPs made it clear they will ditch childhood vaccination in response to the rule change on target pay.
A Pulse survey showed the number of GPs certain to hit the top target has plunged from 83 per cent to 25 per cent.
And 40 per cent of those affected said they will opt out of providing vaccination and immunisation services.
The GPC accepted some responsibility for the rule change but said it would use the results of the Pulse survey as ammunition in further negotiations with the Department of Health.
Public health officials warned a mass opt-out by GPs would have grave implications for the childhood immunisation programme.
Dr John Rodriguez, director of public health at Ashford PCT, said the Pulse survey showed the changes had 'backfired'. He said: 'The Government are the origin of this. They set the targets and it shows the importance of getting the targets right.'
Dr David Baxter, consultant in communicable diseases in Stockport, said the results were 'extremely worrying'. He said GPs were best placed to provide the service and if they were to opt out he couldn't think of anyone who could provide it in their absence.
Bruce Laurence, director of public health at High Peak and Derbyshire Dales PCT, said if GPs took mass action it would be a major problem. 'Obviously every director of public health would be extremely concerned if this happens,' he said.
In addition to those opting out, 20 per cent said they would no longer chase parents to persuade them to bring their children in for vaccinations.
Dr Trevor Gooding, a GP in Atherstone, Warwickshire said: 'If we don't bother to chase then less people are going to be vaccinated. That's the bottom line. The likelihood is that the illnesses we are trying to prevent will become more prevalent.'
The department dismissed GPs' threat to opt-out saying it did not believe it would happen. It placed the blame for the situation squarely with the GPC for rejecting inclusion of Men C in the pay calculation.
Dr Laurence Buckman, dep-uty chair of the GMC, said he didn't remember turning down an offer from the department.