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Independents' Day

GPs who went salaried under hospital trust now 'better at meeting demand'

Every single GP who went to work for a hospital trust as part of a takeover of local practices in Northumbria say they are now meeting patient demand more effectively.

The claim comes from Northumbria Primary Care Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust which took over the running of five practices in April last year, with all GPs going salaried.

The not-for-profit organisation, which covers a population of 37,000 patients in North Tyneside and Northumbria, said that since the takeover, 91% of GPs said the quality of care improved; 82% said that workload improved; and 100% said they are meeting demands patients better.

It also claimed that 82% of GPs felt more motivated as a result of the move, with 91% pointing to an improved 'team ethos', and that patients could get quicker same day appointments and felt happier with the quality of care they were getting.

Dr Nigel Twelves, clinical director of Northumbria Primary Care Ltd and a GP at Ponteland Medical Group, which made the claim on a poster displayed at the RCGP conference earlier this month, told Pulse: 'Since practices have joined Northumbria Primary Care, patients have already seen improvements, including quicker routine and same day appointments... We’re also starting to demonstrate improved experience from GPs in the practices.

'Earlier this year we surveyed GPs from three of the surgeries that have been with NPC the longest and the results are very encouraging. They are telling us that they are feeling improvements including in quality of care and workload.'

He said this was partly down to bringing in 'new alternative workforce', helping to meet demand.

He said: ’We have introduced key new roles into the clinical teams over the past year including nurse practitioners, clinical pharmacists, prescribing physiotherapists and specialist women’s health doctors.

'This has helped to ensure that patients see the most appropriate healthcare professional as quickly as possible, and leaves GPs free to spend longer with patients with more complex health problems.’

But the local LMC dismissed the claims, saying that the quality of care offered by independent GPs in the area was ‘excellent’.

Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC chief executive Dr George Rae said: ‘The poster is just marketing - the innovative methods of care it describes like the use of nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists are methods we already use.

'The quality of care given by GPs in the area has never dipped. The quality of care we provide is excellent, but it is having a dramatic effect on GPs work life balance.'

Dr Rae said that the LMC has formed a primary care strategy for the region with the CCG and the local GP federation in a bid to help alleviate the pressure on GPs.

Pulse previously reported that GPs at 29 practices in Tyneside refused to be taken over by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust last year, despite a push from the local CCG, and are now looking at a 'plan B' model.

Northumbria Primary Care Ltd runs the Ponteland Medical Group in Ponteland, Collingwood Medical Group in Blyth, Cramlington Medical Group in Cramlington, Spring Terrace Health Centre in North Shields and 49 Marine Avenue Surgery in Whitley Bay.

The move towards salaried general practice

This year, Pulse has reported on scores of practices where all the partners are planning to, or have already gone salaried to hospital tusts.

A recent Pulse survey has revealed that more than half of partners said that they would now consider becoming salaried if offered the right deal, while only one in five GPs feels the current partnership model will exist in 10 years’ time. 

And, as Pulse has reported previously, this move towards salaried practise forms part of a trend.

Official figures show that in September 2009, 69% of all GPs in England were partners while 20.5% were salaried; in September 2015, this had changed to 55% and 24%.



Readers' comments (19)

  • Is it not a bit premature for a verdict?
    A cynic might consider this as a part of a long term plan with stage 1 luring them in, then stage 2 gently add more work and reduce the money until £22billion efficiency savings have been achieved.
    By then the independent contractor status has gone and there is no return.

    Dear Colleagues, Welcome to Jeremy's sugar guest house. I hope you have a better fate than Hansel and Gretel.

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  • The question is - How much money per patient per year?

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  • It would be interesting to ask the patients what they thought about the service. Asking Doctors if the service has improved is not going to produce an unbiased answer.

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  • Sounds like a whitewash to me.

    Remember when the OOH pilot in Manchester was hailed a success before actually seeing any patients.

    Anyway, this is a recent NHS choices review for their surgery....

    "Getting an appointment is almost impossible. They prefer to diagnose over the phone - bizarre! Complaints are ignored. Avoid!"

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  • Smells of propaganda to me what will it be like when the shiny newness is gone and it is bedded in really is to soon to come forward with this type of guff.As above how much per patient its all about the money honey(funding)!

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  • When seeking an opinion regarding a change, one might ask users of the service.

    It has come to my attention that a number of individuals that use the service following the change, are unhappy with the new setup.

    Not all plain sailing!

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  • How much are the GPs actually getting paid? How many sessions is classed as full time. What other roles do they have to take on?

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  • Those asking what the users of the service think it is easy to find out.

    Recommendation rates of 92%, 87%, 85%, 87% and 98% on the FFT for August.

    The question of whether they are just spending GMS money or if there is additional funding is a good one though!

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  • Sounds interesting - would be Good to have more details.

    What is the funding in the practice - how much are docs getting paid - do they get indemnity paid, study leave, time for appraisals and revalidation

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) I don't think anybody would be against the ideology . Salaried GPs in either MCP or PACS are perhaps the outlet for those who really only want to concentrate on seeing patients with zero politics involved ,ideally. Interesting question is whether these GPs are really given that immunity ? Having said that , statistics , targets and budgets are all realities which will never go away under any government.
    (2) Then it also leads to the common question: money, how much? Clearly , if politicians want to make a 'pilot' work, history told you they would pump the money in for the mean time. If it becomes a black and white contractual arrangement , this will transform into a different question . The theory of 'the service will then become self sufficient financially' is still ringing in my ears. Do not forget the ghost of 7 days opening does not want to go away. These MCP or PACS practices are more or less the central hubs rubber-stamping 7 days general practice .Time , of course , will tell. If you read Guardian last few days , you wonder where Simon Stevens is standing right now under the shadow of the Prime Minister and Chancellor.
    (3) The persuit of true integrated care is undisputable but the key word here is 'true'. The interesting question to me is whether these GPs in the organisation actually have better access to the consultants if patients need referrals. How can the consultants prioritise considering that they still need to see patients referred by other practices ?
    (4) Young colleagues will certainly prefer this kind of model if it truly delivers what it set out to do in the first place. My subjective wish is not to see the 'Sunset' of traditional model(s) in general practice but who am I to argue with a hierarchy which , from day one , had already laid down the blue print to destroy its existence ? Evolution never stops and is cruel , I guess .........

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