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GPC brands Government’s new GP contract ‘a distraction’

The Government’s new alternative GP contract is ‘a distraction’ from the problems it should urgently be solving within general practice, the GPC has said.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse that the announcement is ‘sidestepping reality’ and that the Government should be focusing on relieving GPs’ stress.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced yesterday that the Government will launch a new voluntary GP contract available to large practices and federations with more than 30,000 patients which would ‘get rid of’ box-ticking and offer seven-day access.

But citing the Department of Health-commissioned GP Worklife Survey published last week and the BMA’s survey of over 15,000 GPs earlier this year, Dr Nagpaul said the Government’s priority should be to tackle the issues of GP stress levels being at record highs, nine in 10 GPs under too much pressure to give quality care and a third planning to retire within five years.

He said the Government ‘should be very concerned’ about the ‘stark’ statistics, and ’should want to be doing what it can to address the reality of patient services being so adversely affected under current pressures’.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘This announcement is simply sidestepping the reality and priority that the Government should be concerned about. The issue is about tackling immediate priorities facing the profession. Last week a Government survey showed there are record levels of stress [and] our BMA survey showed that one-third of GPs are considering retiring from general practice within the next five years.

‘As a Government, if that is the reality that is facing you, you have to ensure that quality of care and services are maintained. That is where the dialogue has to come back to, to today’s reality and tackling the problems that are affecting the GP service.’

Professor Clare Gerada, a GP in Lewisham and the former chair of RCGP told Pulse: ’I think it is destabilising an already very precarious situation. We need to be focusing on the sick and continuity, not spreading ourselves thinner and thinner for the needs of convenience.’

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said the Government’s announcement was a way to ‘divide and rule’ GPs, adding: ’To announce before any negotiation is a disgrace.’

But NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon said that the new contract ’could be useful and interesting if people and resources follow it’.