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Independents' Day

Plummeting GP morale ignored by media

The BMA's response to months of anti-GP spin has received a muted response, highlighting fears that the tabloid and broadsheet press is unsympathetic to huge morale problems in the profession.

The association last week published a survey of more than 11,000 GPs, in a concerted attempt to counter a steady stream of anti-GP headlines.

But though widely welcomed by grassroots GPs, the GPC survey had very little impact on a wider audience.

Despite a packed press confer-ence in London, its findings received only very limited coverage in the national media, unlike a much smaller survey recently carried out by the CBI, which called for longer GP opening hours, which got massive national coverage.

Dr Tony le Vann, a GP in Doncaster, said it was ‘extraordinary' the survey had not been reported more widely.

‘Sadly, the only time I read of the survey was on,' he said.

‘The BBC put it in their health bit of the news, deeming it lacking sufficient gravitas to be in their regular use. Yet they thought the CBI's fake survey of 1,000 like-minded individuals was worthy enough to be quoted time after time.'

The survey shows GPs are deeply unhappy with recent developments in the NHS, and remain pessimistic about the future.

More than half of GPs de-scribed morale as ‘low' or ‘very low', while one in six said they were contemplating a change in career.

But while most GPs believe extending opening hours is a waste of NHS resources, more than half said they would do it if the price was right.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said the Govern-ment was on a ‘quest to alienate GPs.'

‘Morale amongst GPs is awful,' he said. ‘The incessant attempts to undermine the values of general practice - something that most patients value in their own GP – have thrown away the goodwill of GPs and represent a wasted opportunity.'

The large-scale GP survey – the BMA's first since 2001 – follows several much-publicised government and business surveys in recent months.

The £11m Patient Experience Survey, published last month, was used to justify ordering half of all GPs to offer ex-tended opening, even though 84% of patients said they were content with opening hours.

Dr Mohamed Roshan, a GP in Leicester, writing in Pulse this week, urges the BMA to employ a professional PR machine to take on the spin doc-tors, claiming GPs have been left powerless at the hands of spin doctors.

But Dr Kailash Chand, a GP in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester and BMA council member who has previously called for the organisa-tion to be much more aggressive in its PR strategy, said the survey was a ‘a step in the right direction.

‘We should have been doing this a long time ago – but better late than never,' he said.

BMA morale survey - key findingsBMA morale survey - key findings BMA morale survey - key findings

53.3% of GP partners would consider extending opening hours if sufficient additional resources were made available
72.5% of GPs said extending opening hours is not a good use of NHS resources

50.5% said morale is low or very low
53.2% said morale has declined since five years ago
16% are contemplating a career change

20.1% of GPs in England said they had had a positive or very positive experience of Choose and Book
80.5% of GPs in England do not believe the Summary Care Record will represent value for money
70.2% of GPs in England do not believe the Summary Care Record will be secure
56.0% of GPs in England believe patients should always have to give explicit consent before a Summary Care Record is created

56.1% of GPs on APMS contracts believe APMS poses a major threat to the quality of general practice and to the quality of patient care
65.7% of all GPs agreed or strongly agreed that private organisations should be allowed to provide NHS care only where there is an identified need or gap

The BMA ran a similar survey of more than 23,000 GPs in 2001. It found:
24.7 % were contemplating a career change (compared to 16% today)
66.1% said morale is low or very low (compared to 50.5% today)

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