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Independents' Day

‘Austerity for GPs cannot continue’, says primary care minister

Exclusive The squeeze on practice funding ‘can’t last forever’ if the Government is serious about increasing the numbers in the workforce, the primary care minister has admitted in an exclusive interview with Pulse.

David Mowat said that ‘paying GPs less’ is not a way to achieve the aim of introducing 5,000 more GPs into the workforce by 2020, and cited the 14% increase in GP funding under the GP Forward View as a signal of the way forward.

However, he stopped short of promising that that bulk of this would be delivered through core practice funding, instead saying the Department of Health would look at what is ‘right and fair’ under the GP contract.

The interview comes as contract negotiations between GPC and civil servants continue on the deal for GP practices in England from April 2017. This should see another 4% rise in the funding allocated to general practice, although it remains unclear whether practices will have to work harder to gain this rise, or whether it will be included in a global sum uplift.

Mr Mowat said that they would aim to carry on schemes, such as those to reimburse indemnity, and to encourage returners to come back and older GPs to carry on working in general practice.

But when asked by Pulse whether GPs can expect pay rises this year, he said: ‘That’s not directly the purpose of it. We look at the contract every year, and we try to make sure we know what’s right and fair.’

However, he added: ‘There has been a period of, let’s call it austerity. Not just for GPs, but everybody in the health system. That can’t last forever, and we do know we want to have more people being GPs and therefore paying them less isn’t usually a way of achieving that.

‘So in directional terms, that takes you to saying that’s not something we can continue to do. Do we want GPs to do more? Yes, and that’s why we need to have 10,000 more [GPs and practice staff] working in the profession with them.’

When challenged on whether the Government will continue with pursuing seven-day GP access - as recently questioned by new RCGP chair Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard - he signalled no retreat.

Mr Mowat said: ‘We still have a commitment in our manifesto to roll out access to GPs by 2020 and, speaking for myself, it’s not always possible to get to see a GP locally during working hours and that is something that I’m keen to be able to do.

'Now, of course, that shouldn’t mean all GPs have to be open all the time; it just means there should be a facility so that you can actually take advantage of that. In a 21st century healthcare system, that has to be the right way to go.'

The comments come as the chair of the BMA, Dr Mark Porter, said that the Government is ‘taking credit for work they haven’t done’ by claiming a £10bn increase in health spending.

He said: ‘The chancellor, health secretary and prime minister have, at various points referred to a £10 billion increase in English NHS spending in this parliament.

‘The ”£10 billion” actually equates to a £4.5 billion increase in overall health spending.

‘The health secretary said “whether you call it £4.5 billion or £10 billion, it doesn’t matter”, I disagree. While any increase in health funding is welcome and desperately needed, this is the Government taking credit for work they haven’t done and money they haven’t found.’


Readers' comments (9)

  • The Tories always bang on about "Market Forces" when it comes to bankers and various other Tory Donors.
    But when it comes to the public sector...logic goes out the window-overtaken by an irrational hatred of GPs modelled on the Daily Mail.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Good cop, bad cop.
    There is always some 'kinder' person coming out of government saying things like this when the screw was tightened so much.
    The simple verdict is the way the government funding the health and social care is simply dishonest and irresponsible, full stop.
    Some might even say an earlier general election might not be a bad idea now . Happy new year , everybody....
    (I personally look forward to the Supreme Court judgement on Brexit)

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  • As long as there are doctors willing to work long hours for very little as part of a vocation, [ and there are more GPs joining, more doctor applications] market forces do not apply. My accountant and lawyer charge 200 pounds + an hour. OOH rates for doctors for night work can be as low as 40. There are plenty of altruistic folks who will work for peanuts comparatively, so the DOH has no worries about increasing pay.

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  • Healthy Cynic

    I read this interview. It was full of phrases borrowed from the Cameron book of answer avoidance: 'let me be clear on this', 'the direction of travel', 'what we will look at' etc etc. During the interview he stated precisely nothing about the future of primary care funding.

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  • Where was this Minister when they were torpedoing the titanic? Partying, I guess, docked in Monaco with Tory entourage.

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  • It's 2017 and the cavalry still ain't coming

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  • I left 3 years ago and emigrated. I now have two houses where I am, one overlooking the beach which I rent out and one with an acre plot in the country where I live. I work part time doing plenty of locum work and people are pleased to see me.

    I don't do appraisal and I don't work Christmas or OOH. There is a World shortage of skilled medical staff.

    You have a choice but as the chap above says, 'the cavalry ain't coming'.

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  • doctordog.

    Primary care minister?
    Not been very effective has he?

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  • Ex-pat Medic 4/1/17 6:19 - out of interest where do you work?

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