This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

GPs go forth

If you're as unhappy as I am with PCN specifications, make your voice heard

Dr Kailash Chand

We have more GPs in training than ever before, but when more are leaving general practice than entering it, we’re fighting a losing battle.

Now, the requirements for PCNs with the ‘unfunded’ care home role could be another nail in the sustainability of general practice.

Many a GP has told me that they will pull out of PCNs, and even quit their jobs, if NHS England persists with its specifications.

General practice simply doesn’t have the funding and capacity to deliver them. GPs are the bedrock of the health service, but practices have been brought to their knees by underfunding and rising demand.

We need to seriously address the workforce crisis, as the failure to acknowledge the crisis facing GP services – an under-resourced, over-stretched shell of its former self, struggling to keep pace with patient demand, despite staff’s best efforts – could finish off ’the jewel in the crown of the NHS’ for good.

The NHS has the most stressed GPs by Western standards, as a result of relentless workloads, endless bureaucracy and the shortest time spent with patients, further evidenced by the NHS seeing its first sustained fall in GP numbers in nearly 50 years.

Strikingly, the number of GPs per 100,000 people dropped from 64.9 in 2014, to 60 last year. This new ask from NHS England may further fuel the exodus of GPs out of general practice.

If NHS England doesn’t get rid of these specifications, its long term plan will only be a wish list

The funding which has been labelled as ‘additional’ in the specs is counterbalanced by a disproportionately increased workload, leading to a net effect of doing more for less.

The service specifications would burden GPs with too many extra deliverables, adding to the pressure rather than reducing it.

Asking for this level of extra work by newly-formed networks who are still building relationships with concerned GPs risks a breakdown in any progress within the network.

Last year, I wrote in Pulse that, in my view, PCNS, like their predecessors primary care trusts and public consulting groups, are ’being set up to fail by taking on too many tasks too quickly’.

The recent developments confirm my concerns.

The BMA must seek an urgent meeting with NHS England and ask for immediate scrapping of these specifications. If NHS England doesn’t accede this demand, its long term plan can only be a wish list.

Don’t waste the opportunity to have your submit your feedback by 15th January

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP in Tameside

Rate this article  (4.6 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (1)

  • Smoke and mirrors.

    Extra investment into primary care promised and a shiny new workforce to help us out of the crisis. Instead we get a whole tranche of new work to do and PCNs will have no time or resources left to help practices be more resilient.

    OK I have a deal - give us a 100% funded PCN workforce if they are doing work for the PCN -don't expect practices to stump up the cash for a workforce who aren't actually doing our core work. Any extra work incurred by practices remunerated by network DES that practices keep rather than having to invest in this in a workforce that isn't what we need.

    As networks we should be able to decide what our local priorities and issues are, put together a business case for investment that includes a description of the workforce required, cost this, and then apply for the funding.

    Any other businesses would laugh at the current offer. Anyone signing up for this DES in it's current state have serious business planning issues.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say