Posted by: Nigel Praities Editor's Blog16 April 2016
I understand that the final touches are being put on the much-delayed rescue package of measures to shore up general practice. Now called the ‘GP roadmap’ it could see the light of day as soon as next week, although I have yet to meet a GP who is dampening their undergarments about it.
Pulse has already reported that it has been delayed over the £110m funding promised to support it. The GPC asked at the time: ‘Have they got enough money to do what GPs and practices are now expecting of them?’ The answer? Probably not.
This would be a shot in the arm for a profession that is on life support
But they cannot afford to present the profession with another ‘new deal’ that fails to immediately address the three-headed beast of rising demand, bureaucracy and a depleting workforce that has been allowed to maraud in GP-land for far too long.
Morale is in the dustbin, a crap roadmap may just tip it in landfill never to be seen again.
But I would argue that there are three quick wins that could address some of the deep-seated problems in the profession, and perhaps more importantly give the profession a immediate morale boost (and as a mouthy journalist, of course I will tell you what they are).
First, crown indemnity for all GPs. This is the problem that I get the most comments and letters about and providing this for the whole profession would be a massive statement that our leaders ‘get it’. It would also provide a nice little income boost that is a bit too complicated to be understood by Daily Mail journalists.
Secondly, incentivise partnerships. The NHS has to tip the balance to tempt younger GPs into a partnership and give hard-pressed practices a helping hand recruiting. This will require a substantial cash pot, but the return on this investment to the health service cannot be underestimated.
Thirdly, and this is probably the most difficult. The head of the NHS must declare a moratorium on any new admin work imposed on GPs from CCGs, area teams or local authorities. Simon Stevens should say: ‘If you impose any more bureaucratic burdens on GPs then you will have to deal with me’ and set up a dedicated team in Skipton House to enforce this, with GPs invited to submit any examples of new paperwork they are having to complete. I even have a suggested email address: email@example.com
And while we are at it, there should be an assumption that GP practices should be paid – particularly when CQRS has mucked up. Unless area team managers can prove otherwise. Oops, that makes four.
There are lots of other things that I could add to this – comprehensive mental health support, a campaign to improve public health literacy etc - and I am sure that you have your own ideas (comments please). But this would be a shot in the arm for a profession that is on life support, a real statement of intent.
Of course, what is badly needed over the longer term is a vision of how GPs are going to work in the next few years. An assurance that while things might get bad, the NHS is working to make it better. Not structures or organisations (MCPs, PACs, STPs or whatever) but a future where GPs can get back to the clinical care they were trained for, not what passes for general practice now.
If the ‘roadmap’ is going to live up to its name then it has to address the long-term goals too. But urgent solutions are needed now, otherwise you might as well return this package to its sender.
Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse