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Independents' Day

GP bureaucracy must not return after pandemic, says RCGP chair

General practice bureaucracy must not return to pre-pandemic levels, the chair of the RCGP has warned.

Professor Martin Marshall hailed the 'dramatic reduction in administrative tasks' which many GPs have not experienced for 'five or 10 years'.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, QOF reporting has been put on hold, alongside revalidation, GP appraisals, CQC inspections and smaller administrative tasks such as the Friends and Family Test.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons health and social care committee earlier this month (1 May), Professor Marshall said: ‘We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in administrative tasks in general practice, and that has freed up space that many GPs haven’t seen or recognised for five or 10 years.

‘What we need to do is make sure that the default position is that bureaucracy won’t come back again - we need to really make sure that it doesn’t, and push hard.'

He said this comes as administrative workload has been a 'massive problem for general practice', with 'about 25%' of clinicians' time 'spent doing things which often don't add very much value'.

He said bureaucracy including 'contractual obligations, regulation organisations, professional regulation' were not all 'bad things', but argued that 'they became disproportionate'.

'More opportunity to create space by reducing administrative workload would be massively beneficial for general practice,’ he said.

Professor Marshall, who had previously suggested that as many as half of GP consultations may be carried out remotely after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, said the challenge now was to decide how to move forward.

He said: ‘I think one of the big challenges that we have in general practice is to identify which of the Covid-related changes are good, and need to be sustained, and need to be embedded back into the service, and which ones are not good for patients and perhaps not good for the NHS, that we need to push back on.’ 

The news comes as the CQC has begun to re-engage with GP practices via a programme of phoning to check in to 'capture and share concerns' and offer 'support' to practices.

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Readers' comments (20)

  • David Banner

    It’s a nice thought, but the cold hard reality is that when the regulators and bean counters come off furlough they’ll be back in their droves, dreaming up new tortures to add to the old. Too many vested interests, sadly.

    Anyone actually listening to GPs would already know that pointless annual appraisal and Stasi-style CQC inspections were hounding good honest hard working GPs into early retirement.

    These callous vultures nonchalantly watched as primary care collapsed and never flinched. Why would they let a humble virus spoil their party?

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  • The PCN DES is a monster of bureaucracy

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  • It’s liberating not having another yet time consuming & pointless appraisal hanging over me. If they are so great why haven’t they been embraced & adopted internationally? Time to consign them to history please...I think you’ll find a lot of doctors morale would jump overnight & it would be such an easy win to encourage doctors away from early retirement

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  • OPT OUT of your PCN-DES by 31.5.20, or regret it, big time.

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  • The Machiavellian Management Monsters are just biding their time.
    They will return as soon as they feel safe from the plague and take their ‘righteous vengeance’. Ha!

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    It would be great if the RCGP actually did something rather than just voicing an opinion to remind us they still exist...
    The colouring books to help with resilience must never return....

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    Is it a good time to address the potentially huge burden of home visits..?

    Home visits are often very time consuming...
    Time that can be used more effectively catching up on the administration
    Scripts test results letters etc...

    Will not hold breath
    Given plans for Care home ward round....
    Let's throw it into the duscussion

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  • Prof Marshall...we agree with you wholeheartedly.... can you succeed where you predecessors have failed???? I hope so. I haven't been a member of RCGP in would be nice to see the RCGP have relevance again. Remember you can say no....... and the best form of negotiation is often to walk out..... being soft doesn't earn you respect. But you need weight behind you.... about 40,000 signatures on an updated mass resignation letter should give you plenty of weight....

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  • Mr Hancock has requested credit for getting thousands of nurses back into practice, ?doctors too. Of course all he did was draw a big crayon line through the register where it said retired. Many of these clinicians have no intention of working. Even those who want to are being stopped by the remaining obstacles.

    We can equally claim credit as the (temporary)removal of appraisal and revalidation, crown indemnity, and reduced threat from the GMC have had as much effect as the secretary of state, when he does what we suggest he gets results?!

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