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GPs go forth

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: 'This new contract is a step forward for general practice'

The new contract announced today has the potential to help GPs spend more time on the care of their patients, says GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash

Every day GPs struggle with the enormous pressures on them and their practice staff to provide frontline patient services. They face rising patient demand, especially from an ageing population, with declining practice resources. Last year this situation was made markedly worse by the Government’s imposed changes to the GP contract which resulted in a wave of time-consuming targets and pointless box-ticking that diverted GPs from doing what they were trained to do: treat patients. 

This year’s talks between the BMA and the Government have offered a chance of addressing some of these issues and putting general practice on a more positive path.

Most encouragingly, the Government has listened to the continued, sustained pressure coming from the GPC and agreed to sweep away some of the targets that were tying up GP practices in endless red tape. I have spoken to many GPs exasperated with having to fill in laborious questionnaires asking patients how much time they spend gardening or offering blood pressure test appointments to healthy 35-40 year olds at the expense of other patients who need to be treated.

Getting rid of these frustrating, clinically pointless tasks was a key goal of our discussions and I am glad not only that this type of box-ticking will end next April, and  that the money for them will be diverted back into general practice. This will be achieved by reducing the size of the QOF by 238 points, now being made part of core funding that will provide GPs and their practice staff with more time to focus on the needs of individual patients.

In addition, another 100 QOF points will be diverted towards funding a new enhanced service to optimise care for patients at home, through a range of measures including focused, supported care for vulnerable patients. This presents a real opportunity to improve coordination across the NHS.

Although I believe that these moves will help lessen some of the pressure on grassroots GPs and their staff, the BMA remains concerned at the proposed changes to seniority payments and its potential impact on GP retention. However, given the Government’s commitment to phase these out across the public sector within two years, we are pleased to have negotiated for these to remain in place for the next six years for those currently receiving them. We have also secured a commitment that all the savings made from removing these increments will be reinvested back into general practice budgets to be retained for the profession. 

We believe that this contract is a step forward and has the potential to help GPs have more time to focus on the care of their patients, however significant additional investment is required in order deal with the added pressure on GPs. General practice and the NHS still have many challenges to overcome, but this small step forward focuses us back on what we want to do: treat patients.

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC negotiator

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Agree with Beth. Well done and congratulations to Chaand Nagpaul and the GPC team on negotiating such a sensible deal. Considering that we are in times of austerity with a dearth of resources, it would have been tempting for Jeremy Hunt and the treasury to have pressurised for a significant clawback . The GPC team have done well to highlight the folly of pushing GPs beyond breaking point and have negotiated what appears to be a sensible list of changes . Well done on getting rid of ridiculous aspects of the QoF. The changes described are a basic revision that most of us as GPs would have recommended anyway. The DESs should hopefully be the correct vehicle to allow JH to pursue some of the more complicated would be helpful for CCGs to strengthen and value the ability of Primary care units by opening up more admission and in- necessary referrals busting community based initiatives that are resourced from CCG budgets through LESs or other innovative vehicles. The CCG development team at NHSE need to stimulate/enable CCGs to divert reduced admission/ referrals funding initiatives to Primary care "gatekeepers". We can all learn to deal with "conflict" related issues as they arise. The GP contract should not always be seen as the main vehicle to seek reductions in A&E attendances and other secondary care activity.

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  • A step forward over the edge of a precipice .

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  • This is not a step forward.
    Infact some of the changes are ridiculous.
    I'm highly disappointed .

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  • This is four steps backward .

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  • I think the editor missed words "the end" in the head line. I'll let you guess where these words goes

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  • The parts of QoF that have been removed will either still be expected, i.e. Achieving BP level targets for individual patients, or won't save any real time, I.e. The GPPAQ might be annoying but it happens within an existing consultation. The additional work will no doubt require numerous forms to prove that the work has been done. As a result workload will increase whilst resource will remain the same. No doubt the pay increase will be in the region of 0%. We can't continue to jump through more hoops year on year. For the rest of this year we are jumping through the hoops which have been deemed a waste of time just to maintain income.

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  • The thing is this. Our take home pay per consult is now 50% of 2005. We have a cut of pay in real terms of 25% and an increase in consultations of 50%. These consultations are more complex and time consuming.
    The GPC and BMA are for the NHS as opposed to speaking for its workforce.
    I have done in my lifetime over 600 weekends of 80 hours with little sleep. Who is my Union ?

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  • The devil will be in the detail.
    however the end game is to privatise the Health Service.
    I see nothing that changes my mind.

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  • Complete rubbish. I have no idea why this doctor is so effusive about the new contract. I certainly don't agree. Her odd attitude personifies the entire GPworkforce - brainwashed and polarised in opinion - most simply too exhausted from so much change to do anything except lie down and take the onslaught full in the face. CCGs, revalidation, pensions slashed, superannuation skyrocketing, seniority withdrawn - well,, what's not to like?

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