Public consultation by GMC is proving very successful
By Emily Wright
New rules governing child vaccine pay have had an enormous impact on general practice, with practices facing annual losses of up to £25,000, a Pulse survey shows.
Since the new calculation was introduced in April, the proportion of practices hitting the top target has plummeted dramatically.
Previously, 83 per cent of respondents said they hit the higher 90 per cent target, a figure in line with national uptake data.
But now 44 per cent of GPs said they were certain to miss the target. A third of GPs are still waiting anxiously to see how they will be affected.
Average losses among affected practices were £7,698 a year, but some practices predicted much larger deficits.
More than one in 10 practices predicted losses of £12,500 and the same proportion said they stood to lose £17,500. Another 6 per cent said they faced a shortfall of £25,000.
The survey also revealed growing frustration over the impact of the rule change with one-third of GPs planning to take action. Some 40 per cent said they would opt out of providing the service and a further 20 per cent said they would chase parents less hard.
Dr John Beaven, a GP in Chard, Somerset, who took part in the survey, said: 'I will lose interest and enthusiasm as there is no longer any incentive.'
Dr Trevor Gooding, a GP in Atherstone, Warwickshire, said the calculations made no sense. 'It's not worth it from a financial point of view now. Being a GP is not only about practising medicine but also about running a business there are staff to pay and premises to keep up.'
Dr Gooding warned that the current situation might result in financially based business decisions eclipsing important aspects of primary care.
Dr Chris Kenyon, a GP in Oxford, said the public didn't deserve to have the vaccine programme pulled out from under their feet, but threatening to withdraw the service would be an effective way to make the Government realise it had 'shot itself in the foot'.
He said: 'The Government needs to see sense and realise how dependent it is on the goodwill of GPs.'