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Patients more satisfied with care given by salaried GPs

Salaried GPs are more productive and their clinical care is

at least as good as their GMS counterparts, Government-funded research reveals.

The study, which compared clinical care and workload at 10 salaried PMS and 10 GMS practices in the first two years after the roll-out of PMS, found salaried GPs on average performed 4.47 more consultations per week, as well as spending an average of 5.42 hours more on out-of-hours work.

GMS doctors cut their total daytime work and time in surgery relative to salaried colleagues by 2.22 and 2.03 hours per week respectively between December 1998 and June 2000.

But patients rated technical and interpersonal care from salaried GPs marginally higher despite their slightly shorter average consultation length, the study published in Health Policy (June) showed.

Patients reported higher quality care from salaried GPs in seven out of 13 aspects of care, including their GP's knowledge of them and trust in their doctor. GMS practices scored higher in only two

aspects.

Salaried PMS doctors also cut administration time by an average of seven minutes a day.

Study co-author Professor Bonnie Sibbald, deputy director of the national primary care research and development centre at the University of Manchester, said the study showed salaried GPs spent more time on clinical work,

allaying initial concern that salaried status may lead to lower levels of work compared with independent contractors.

Professor Sibbald, who was on the Government's national evaluation team for PMS, said: 'The suggestion might be that freedom from practice administration allowed them to give more time to patients.'

NHS Alliance professional executive committee chair Dr David Jenner denied the findings would incentivise GPs to switch to the new contract's salaried GMS option, claiming the improvements in care by salaried GPs were due to 'preferential funding'.

Dr Jenner, a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said: 'If

you made the same funding available to GMS practices I think you will see the same thing.'

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