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Two-thirds of GPs say they will be worse off under commissioning

By Ian Quinn

Nearly two-thirds of GPs believe their lives will be worse off and their jobs under threat because of the Government’s plans for GP commissioning, according to Pulse analysis of a major BMA poll.

Of GPs who took part in the Ipsos MORI survey, 43% believe the reforms will have a ‘major negative impact’ on their role, with a further 20% thinking it will have a ‘minor negative impact’.

The breakdown also shows widespread fears over GP job security, with two thirds of GPs saying they feel job security will be worsened under the changes.

In a further blow to the Government, the survey also shows a huge majority of GPs fear the proposals will damage the relationships GPs have with their patients.

Of the GPs who responded, nearly a third strongly agreed with the statement, while a further 41% said they tended to agree, whereas just one per cent of GPs felt GP commissioning would improve the GP-patient relationship.

The overall findings from all doctors who responded to the poll of BMA members showed most believing it will harm patient care, with huge concerns raised about the impact of increased competition in the NHS and ramping up the role of private providers.

The vast majority of GPs (84%) have taken at least one step to prepare for the reforms, the survey found, with 25% having been signed up as pathfinders.

The Department of Health claimed this and the fact that pathfinders now cover two thirds of the country, showed there was appetite for the reforms.

A spokesperson said: ‘We’re glad to see the vast majority of doctors do want to take on more control and work across the primary and acute sector. Our plans take power from bureaucrats and hand it directly to GPs.’

However, the survey shows nearly 80% of GPs think the plans will mean spending less time with patients, while a similar proportion do not believe it will lead to more professional autonomy, while more than half do not believe the plans will lead to closer working with secondary care.

GPC negotiator, Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, told Pulse: ‘The vast majority of GPs that are getting involved because they feel that they have no choice but to get involved, which is a real disaster. We could have had clinical commissioning without all of the damaging stuff.’

The survey shows 94% of GPs believe the reforms will see an increased role for private providers, with 56% of GPs believing increased comeptition will damage NHS care.

The DH spokeperson added: ‘it is clear from this survey, that there are a few misconceptions about competition. We are not introducing price competition and we will never privatise the NHS. We are investing an extra £10.7bn and services will remain free at the point of use, based on need and not on ability to pay.’

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: ‘disaster’ that GPs feel no choice but to be involved Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: ‘disaster’ that GPs feel no choice but to be involved