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Extended hours battle bred ‘suspicion and mistrust’ among GPs, study finds

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Labour government's imposition of extended hours on GPs bred ‘suspicion and mistrust' to the whole concept of incentive schemes in primary care, a report by the National Institute of Health Research concludes.

The study warns the bitter battle between the Government and GPC and the settlement forcing GPs to extend their opening hours to maintain income back in 2008 still casts a shadow over negotiations between the profession and the Government.

The DH-funded report said while the lack of payment for taking on extended hours undoubtedly had an impact on GPs' motivation, their resentment was equally attributable to the heavy-handed approach adopted by the Government.

It said: ‘The experience of changes being imposed led to suspicion and mistrust with regard to relations with Government and incentive initiatives more generally.

‘The absence of payment has a negative impact on motivation. However, in part, the resentment was created by the approach adopted by the Government, which was perceived as an imposed settlement and not in keeping with the spirit of a negotiated agreement, which underpins the GP contract.'

‘Respondents also objected to the development on the grounds there was very little need to increase opening hours as they reported patient access as adequate under existing arrangements.'

The report also warned private sector providers might be unwilling to enter the primary care market in the future if they were subjected to similar threats to their income.

It said: ‘The extent to which owners and managers of private limited companies, which are entering the market, would be so willing to accept changes such as the extended hours imposition, particularly if they threaten their investment and ability to accumulate capital, remains to be seen.'

The battle over extended opening hours bred 'suspicion and mistrust' among GPs, the report concludes The battle over extended opening hours bred 'suspicion and mistrust' among GPs, the report concludes Full report

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