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Government blanks Lords’ request for salaried GP review

General practice makes an ‘incredibly positive and fundamental contribution’ to the NHS, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

This was its response to a House of Lords select committee report into the long-term sustainability of the service, launched last April.

The committee had said the traditional model of general practice is ‘no longer fit for purpose’ and the Government should explore a future where GPs are under its ‘direct employment’.

But the response from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) failed to directly respond to the specific suggestion.

The DHSC instead said that it was ‘exploring’ how general practice can move to new models, in cooperation with NHS England and the profession, and as highlighted in the GP Forward View.

It said ‘two really positive examples’ of such new models were the MCP and PACS models for integrating specialist and community care.

The DHSC said: ‘The Government recognises the incredibly positive and fundamental contribution that general practice makes within the NHS, including the significant benefits to local communities that GP practices across the country provide.’

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The committee’s report had criticised successive governments for failure to plan to sustain the NHS in the long term, requesting that an ‘Office for Health and Care Sustainability’ was established to look 15-20 years into the future.

But the DHSC said: ‘The Government is deeply committed to the long-term sustainability of the NHS and has put in place steps to ensure the health and care system is well placed to prepare for the future.’

The Lords committee had also asked the Government to review its stance on NHS pay restraint and its effect on morale and retention.

To which the DHSC said it had now liftd the ‘across-the-board 1% public sector pay policy’, adding that it ‘recognises that for some public sector workforces greater pay flexibility in return for improved productivity may be needed to address recruitment and retention problems’.

In January the Department of Health and Social Care indicated there could be some ‘flexibility’ around the 1% pay rise for public sector workers.

The BMA has asked for GPs to receive a pay uplift in line with the retail price index plus 2% in 2018/19.

The Lords committee had also suggested the Department of Health should become the ‘Department of Health and Care’, a recommendation upheld in the Prime Minister’s latest cabinet reshuffle.