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Buckman: ‘Practices are already under huge workload pressures’

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman issued the following response to the Department of Health’s announcement of its consultation on the GP contract.’GPs have been at the forefront of delivering care that keeps pace with technological advances and the changing needs of the population.  The GP contract has always funded GPs for taking steps that directly support and benefit their patients clinically, whether it is managing diabetes, controlling blood pressure or tackling the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease. This has led to thousands of patients benefiting from early diagnosis and treatment that has saved lives.’

‘Practices are already under huge workload pressures and we have real fears that these proposed changes will result in an even greater load at the same time as forcing through a reduction in core funding.  The government’s proposals may sound attractive on the face of it and some of their suggestions are good, however they have not fully considered the overall impact on practices of all these changes being implemented together. This could make it difficult for some practices to maintain the level of care they currently offer, let alone increase their capacity to meet the demands of these new proposals.’

‘We also remain unconvinced about the basis for some of the proposed changes, which include asking GPs to refer patients to certain education programmes which do not exist everywhere in the UK.’

‘The BMA will closely analyse the details of these complex proposals. We are open to real dialogue with the government about the impact of these changes as part of its planned consultation.  We hope that ministers intend to engage in a meaningful discussion and that they will listen and act on concerns that are raised, particularly where their proposals are unworkable or will lead to unintended consequences.  We would be extremely disappointed if this consultative process was a rubber stamping exercise for their existing plans.’ 

‘The unacceptable way the government has handled these negotiations should not set a precedent for future discussions. The agreement reached in Scotland over the future of changes to the GP contract demonstrates how a cooperative and consultative approach can achieve a positive outcome for patients and the NHS.  The UK government needs to follow that example.’