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Independents' Day

One in seven GPs forced to make redundancies since April

Exclusive Around one in seven practices has had to make staff redundancies since April to offset the funding squeeze caused by the Government’s imposed contract.

A Pulse survey of 448 GPs has showed that practices have taken a range of efficiency measures since the imposed contract came into force on 1 April, including partners slashing their drawings by more than 20%.

Although the GPC has warned that this was the likely effect of the contract changes - which forced GPs to work harder to receive QOF payments while giving them a below-inflation pay increase of 1.32% - this is the first clear evidence that practices are having to cut back on staff and reduce patient services since April.

The measures have included 14% of practices making some form of redundancies and 15% cutting back on patient services. Almost a quarter of practices - 23.2% - have had to cut staff hours since April.

Most GPs said they had to lay off admin staff, which 11% of respondents said they had done since April. Five percent laid off clinical staff and a further 5% laid of salaried GPs.

But partners are also taking a hit, with 304 out of the 368 GP partners who responded saying they have reduced drawings since April, and more than one in ten reducing drawings by 20% and over.

The news of GPs having to make these swingeing cuts comes as NHS England has said it wants to discuss increased patient access as part of this year’s GP contract negotiations.

The GP contract terms for 2013/14 - under which GPs are no longer paid for administration costs that were previously part of the QOF, are working to new tougher QOF targets and higher QOF thresholds - were imposed on the profession after the Government pulled out of annual negotiations with the GPC.

Respondents to the survey laid bare the lengths they are having to go to following the contract changes. One GP said their practice was ‘looking at reducing salaried doctors and replacing with non-practitioners’, while another in Merseyside said they had resorted to hand-delivering post to patients. A partner in Leicestershire said: ‘We do not feel able to alter anything else without making services unsafe.’

Deputy GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘This is alarming but sadly predictable and we highlighted that this would be the inevitable result of the government’s unjustified contract imposition. Not only will it further undermine the morale of GPs and their staff but could also have an impact on the service offered by practices. Patients should be clear that the government are responsible for what practices have been left with no alternative to do.’

One GP, who wanted to remain anonymous after having to cut back staff hours and make administrative staff redundant, said: ‘We had to take these measures because of continual year-after-year cuts to the practice’s funding. Although there has been a 1.25% uplift to the contract this year that leaves at least a 4-5% increase in expenses.

‘If you add to that the QOF targets that we won’t be going for because we think they are clinically unsafe and jeopardising the health of our patients, we can’t try to recoup funds there, so we have to make cuts elsewhere.’


Readers' comments (14)

  • Response from the public:Good,serves you lazy fat cats right.You're still paid too much.Let's cut it more

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  • response from GP to public.

    nobody is applying for the GP jobs now. a pay cut will make this worse.not my job to keep the show running at expense of my own sanity.

    the NHS is nearing collapse

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  • Public response-the Partners have taken a pay cut if you read again its admin staff that are in the dole queue cut it more?????

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  • Yes. "I've had to reduce my drawings by 20%, and sack my receptionist." won't cause a rush of sympathy.

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  • yes ive cut my opening hours
    yes ive cut appointments
    yes ive cut all the things i used to do upaid like minor injuries, bandages and blood tests
    yes ive cut the doctors appointment s
    yes ive cut the nurses appointments

    might on the other hand worry the public, and the other more expensive parts of the nhs that will have to pick up the slack, probably costing vastly more than the 65 poundds A YEAR we charge a single patinet for the whole service

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  • do not target receptionist who are not well paid and helped you through thick and thin and rely on this income for survival. gp income drop will not lead them to starve. gp is in such strong position to open lots of other avenue to increase income but staff have none.
    hard working gp's may have no impact. .
    nhs had many changes over years, i never had problem finding alternative source of income.
    targeting staff is saying "i do not want want to cut my income,i will make you redundant"

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  • amount of GP applicants if you cut pay -nil.
    have you tried recruiting lately. I have

    if you cut the pay of GPs they go abroad -(there is a massive shortage of GPs) and the practice shuts and everyone gets made redundant.It will be happening soon all over the country.
    unfortunately , fair or not fair, that is the situation we are in

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  • Now now the sort of comment from Joe Public (!) shows a real lack of understanding of the work involved, the level of commitment and dedication that the majority of GPs give to the job. Being a receptionist is also not an easy job especially with the likes of Joe Public banging on the counter. There is only so much one can do in a day and we have to remember that ‘when its gone its gone’. The NHS was never designed to do what it does today. It seems that instead of emergency care it has become a ‘give me, I want, I will have ‘ service. So perhaps now is the time to say no to protect the future otherwise we will end up like that American with the 10 stone testicle who could not afford to have it operated on !!!!!!

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  • Most hardworking GPs of which I am priviledged to work for will cut staff as a very last resort but there will become a limit to how low they are prepared to keep shedding their drawings - . When the NHS was founded it could never be envisaged that our GPs would be trying to deal with an ever ageing population the "creaking gates" of patients with multiple long term conditions. The GPs I work with deal with these day in day out and employ nurses at their own cost to provide an holistic service to these and contrary to popular stories in the press never turn a patient in need away.

    Yes There are a handful of GPs who have been built larger surgeries on many sites with dispencing capabilities earning larger sums of money but they too have earned that -
    Most rank and file GPs are working harder and earning less each year -

    Primary care have been let down badly by successive Governments and the media defending "I want it and I want it now" mentality. Never giving a thought to whether or not they were in fact in the most need.

    So please lets have no more of the GP bashing or it will not be very long before you have NO GP fighting for your health needs - because believe it not David Cameron has not got your best interest at heart

    It is the GP that the most vulnerable in our society turn to - lets fight for this service to continue

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  • The public will get what they deserve. They've not objected to the government's actions and some clearly feels GPs are getting paid too much. You can continue to bash GPs down and you will end up with very few altristic doctors (and you wont get more than a handful in the country who are prepared to work 50+ hours on average salary for 40 years) or those that are tto inexperienced, inadequately qualified or poor clinicians who are unable to work any where else.

    If that's what public wants, they will end up with it in a few years at this rate.

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