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Almost half of GP partners willing to leave the NHS and go private

Exclusive Almost half of GP partners would be willing to give up their contract and work privately if the situation in general practice doesn’t improve, a Pulse survey has found.

Pulse can also reveal a growing disenchantment from LMC leaders and grassroots GPs about the GPC and the BMA, with six out of ten saying they are not doing a good job of leading the profession.

The GPC has said that it understands the frustrations of GPs, but it is currently in talks with NHS England to ensure commitments on workforce and workload are delivered.

It comes as some LMCs are considering a ‘Plan B’ for general practice, which could see GPs ditching their contracts and working privately.

‘Plan B’ is currently being worked up by the Northern Ireland GPC following on from its plan to ballot GPs on resigning from the NHS en masse in protest to the underfunding of general practice.

Pulse has reported that Oxfordshire LMC was considering how such a plan could work in England.

This was following discontent at the GPC, which dropped threats to ballot GPs on mass undated resignations after apparently receiving assurances from NHS England for greater support.

The survey found:

  • 45% of 628 GP partners would support giving up their NHS contracts and carry on working privately if the current situation in general practice does not improve;
  • Only 18% of 1,141 GPs across the UK think that the GPC/BMA is doing a good job representing GPs’ interests, compared with 63% who say they are not.

Other LMCs have told Pulse that they will be looking at the plans themselves due to discontent with the NHS.

Dr Ian Rummens, medical secretary of Shropshire LMC, which first mooted the idea of undated resignations, said local GPs ‘are unhappy with the way the GPC has failed to respond’ to the call for action. He says the situation has not improved since the LMCs Conference, with ‘most practices one or two resignations away from folding’.

Dr Rummens added: ‘GPC Northern Ireland has seized the nettle; they know what their GPs think. It is a pity the GPC in London has not given grassroots GPs in the rest of the UK that opportunity.

‘For most GPs, a switch to becoming a private provider is a frightening prospect but the options for remaining sustainable over appear increasingly limited.’

Walsall LMC medical secretary and GPC member Dr Uzma Ahmad said: ‘I do not support Plan B, but I can see where they are coming from. No one wants to take responsibility for what is happening in general practice.’

A spokesperson for the GPC said: ‘The 2016 LMCs Conference quite rightly expressed anger and asked GPC to ensure the Government accepted the recommendations of our Urgent Prescription, including calls for more funding and an expanded workforce.

‘After pressure from the GPC, this was accepted explicitly by NHS England alongside the commitments in the GP Forward View. The GPC therefore delivered on its mandate, making the call for taking further action not relevant.

‘The BMA is now in direct dialogue with NHS England to ensure delivery of the promises on funding, workforce and workload, and is working in partnership with LMCs to enable local implementation in the quickest possible time frame.’

What GPs are thinking

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