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GPs told to 'hot desk' and work from open plan offices

By Steve Nowottny

PCT bosses have told GPs they must ‘hot-desk' and work from an open plan office in a desperate bid to make ‘effective and efficient use of space' in surgeries, Pulse can reveal.

A number of practices in east London have been told that in order to move to new premises, they must agree to a new model of working which includes a pooled reception, GPs sharing desks and GPs carrying out administrative duties in an open plan office.

Managers in Newham and Tower Hamlets PCTs insist the plans will make best use of limited space, but LMC leaders are protesting, warning they could endanger patient confidentiality.

Dr Kambiz Boomla, chair of City and East London LMC, said: ‘What's being pushed by PCTs is that practice A, which might be in inadequate premises and desperately wants to move, is going to be given the opportunity of moving into the new premises, then they would have to accept that new model of working – which in essence amounts to a renegotiation of their contract.'

‘The model of hot desking that might work quite well say for middle management at a PCT office wouldn't work at all well where GPs have to have confidential information,' he added.

‘I don't think you can suddenly clear out of your consulting room at 12.30 on the dot, move on to a hot desk in shared office space and be ringing up patients to discuss their blood results, which might conceivably be HIV results and so on, in an open plan office.'

But a spokesperson for Tower Hamlets PCT denied patients would be put at risk.

‘We would never expect confidential information or data to be managed in an inappropriate environment,' she said. ‘We are not renegotiating the GP contract and will aim to follow a set of principles that support modern ways of working.'

‘It is important that our new developments are utilised in the most effective and efficient way possible, and that the new premises help us to deliver improved services for patients.'

Newham PCT was unavailable for comment.

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