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Independents' Day

Almost half of GP partners willing to leave the NHS and go private

Exclusive Almost half of GP partners would be willing to give up their contract and work privately if the situation in general practice doesn’t improve, a Pulse survey has found.

Pulse can also reveal a growing disenchantment from LMC leaders and grassroots GPs about the GPC and the BMA, with six out of ten saying they are not doing a good job of leading the profession.

The GPC has said that it understands the frustrations of GPs, but it is currently in talks with NHS England to ensure commitments on workforce and workload are delivered.

It comes as some LMCs are considering a 'Plan B' for general practice, which could see GPs ditching their contracts and working privately.

‘Plan B’ is currently being worked up by the Northern Ireland GPC following on from its plan to ballot GPs on resigning from the NHS en masse in protest to the underfunding of general practice.

Pulse has reported that Oxfordshire LMC was considering how such a plan could work in England.

This was following discontent at the GPC, which dropped threats to ballot GPs on mass undated resignations after apparently receiving assurances from NHS England for greater support.

The survey found:

  • 45% of 628 GP partners would support giving up their NHS contracts and carry on working privately if the current situation in general practice does not improve;
  • Only 18% of 1,141 GPs across the UK think that the GPC/BMA is doing a good job representing GPs’ interests, compared with 63% who say they are not.

Other LMCs have told Pulse that they will be looking at the plans themselves due to discontent with the NHS.

Dr Ian Rummens, medical secretary of Shropshire LMC, which first mooted the idea of undated resignations, said local GPs 'are unhappy with the way the GPC has failed to respond’ to the call for action. He says the situation has not improved since the LMCs Conference, with ‘most practices one or two resignations away from folding'.

Dr Rummens added: 'GPC Northern Ireland has seized the nettle; they know what their GPs think. It is a pity the GPC in London has not given grassroots GPs in the rest of the UK that opportunity.

'For most GPs, a switch to becoming a private provider is a frightening prospect but the options for remaining sustainable over appear increasingly limited.'

Walsall LMC medical secretary and GPC member Dr Uzma Ahmad said: ‘I do not support Plan B, but I can see where they are coming from. No one wants to take responsibility for what is happening in general practice.’

A spokesperson for the GPC said: 'The 2016 LMCs Conference quite rightly expressed anger and asked GPC to ensure the Government accepted the recommendations of our Urgent Prescription, including calls for more funding and an expanded workforce.

'After pressure from the GPC, this was accepted explicitly by NHS England alongside the commitments in the GP Forward View. The GPC therefore delivered on its mandate, making the call for taking further action not relevant.

'The BMA is now in direct dialogue with NHS England to ensure delivery of the promises on funding, workforce and workload, and is working in partnership with LMCs to enable local implementation in the quickest possible time frame.'

What GPs are thinking

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Mr Mephisto

    The Northern Ireland GPC are in the vanguard on this issue.

    Our leader Tom Black is currently in the middle of a road show programme to see if there is support for this very move - Northern Ireland GPs signing undated resignation letters and leaving the NHS en-masse.

    There have been two meetings to date.

    In the 1st meeting 97% signed undated resignation letters and the in the 2nd 93% signed.

    Lets see how Northern Ireland gets on with this issue.

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  • I am leaving and not coming back. I want to preserve my own health and mental wellbeing.

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  • The GPC statement hits the nail on the head. Basically saying the GPC did a little bit to keep the status quo so everybody should be happy with that.

    Well no GPC we aren't happy. Stop representing the government and start representing GPs like you are supposed to.

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  • Got to the Surgery early morning at 6:30 to begin an extended session from 7-8am. Guess what? First 3 patients did not attend ! Not going to use vulgarisms but would stress that in today's world general practice can;t be baby-sitting an irresponsible section of patients who take our service for granted. You have to make patients pay for DNA's the same as dentists do. GPC get to work instead of clapping our backs and blowing hot air.

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  • Having worked in NZ a co pay system along with some capitation is the only real way to manage workload. Along with provision for those with chronic conditions e.g 4-6 free visits per year etc. If they bring this in you might find a lot of the issues of recruitment and retention improve, health budgets become easier to manage etc. I'm pretty sure for example that weekly visits of some of our patients has not improved health outcomes and is probably a poor use of resource.

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  • We already pay for the NHS through our taxation but this disgusting Government is underfunding the NHS so that while Tony Blair got NHS funding equal to the EU health care average funding, this Government has so underfunded the NHS that we are now at the very bottom of the EU healthcare funding league table. Instead of threatening to go private as is understandable, please join the campaigns to restore the NHS to a properly funded public service. There is a nationwide Labour Party Event on 26 November which will have stalls all over the place supporting the aim of a properly funded public NHS. Please join these stall or at least visit them and show your support. NHS commissioning has increased the administration charge on the NHS budget by over 200% (from 5% to 15% +) and this money would be better spent on recruiting and training more doctors and nurses, shortening this Government's increasing waiting times and improving the care of the patients.

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  • The system is not working. Pushing social problems to doctors. Poor school teaching, parenting, system economically encouraging family break ups. Now even the police gets stabbed by children. Hopeless.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Sign of the times .

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  • The current system is not working. It is damaging to both the health of the doctors and the patients.
    I am handing in my resignation from the partnership. I would stay if there was a plan to become private, with the patient able to reclaim the cost from the government .
    I cannot list the problems that I see with the current system as there are simply too many and if you are working as a GP partner you should already know what they are.
    Salaried GP's are caught up in the mess because there is a monopoly provider of primary care and have no choice apart from leaving the country.

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  • Agree with Paul Bunting. We are being pushed to resign . It would be ideal for HMG . No responsibility for the collapse of the NHS - it's all those greedy bastard doctors . This crisis needs a political solution . Either increase tax or co-payment. The Labour party need to highlight the dangers of an imminent collapse of the NHS . Hold firm don't let the Tories dump the blame on us.

    Winter is coming.

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