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GPs who went salaried under hospital trust now ‘better at meeting demand’

Every single GP who went to work for a hospital trust as part of a takeover of local practices in Northumbria say they are now meeting patient demand more effectively.

The claim comes from Northumbria Primary Care Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust which took over the running of five practices in April last year, with all GPs going salaried.

The not-for-profit organisation, which covers a population of 37,000 patients in North Tyneside and Northumbria, said that since the takeover, 91% of GPs said the quality of care improved; 82% said that workload improved; and 100% said they are meeting demands patients better.

It also claimed that 82% of GPs felt more motivated as a result of the move, with 91% pointing to an improved ‘team ethos’, and that patients could get quicker same day appointments and felt happier with the quality of care they were getting.

Dr Nigel Twelves, clinical director of Northumbria Primary Care Ltd and a GP at Ponteland Medical Group, which made the claim on a poster displayed at the RCGP conference earlier this month, told Pulse: ‘Since practices have joined Northumbria Primary Care, patients have already seen improvements, including quicker routine and same day appointments… We’re also starting to demonstrate improved experience from GPs in the practices.

‘Earlier this year we surveyed GPs from three of the surgeries that have been with NPC the longest and the results are very encouraging. They are telling us that they are feeling improvements including in quality of care and workload.’

He said this was partly down to bringing in ‘new alternative workforce’, helping to meet demand.

He said: ’We have introduced key new roles into the clinical teams over the past year including nurse practitioners, clinical pharmacists, prescribing physiotherapists and specialist women’s health doctors.

‘This has helped to ensure that patients see the most appropriate healthcare professional as quickly as possible, and leaves GPs free to spend longer with patients with more complex health problems.’

But the local LMC dismissed the claims, saying that the quality of care offered by independent GPs in the area was ‘excellent’.

Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC chief executive Dr George Rae said: ‘The poster is just marketing – the innovative methods of care it describes like the use of nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists are methods we already use.

‘The quality of care given by GPs in the area has never dipped. The quality of care we provide is excellent, but it is having a dramatic effect on GPs work life balance.’

Dr Rae said that the LMC has formed a primary care strategy for the region with the CCG and the local GP federation in a bid to help alleviate the pressure on GPs.

Pulse previously reported that GPs at 29 practices in Tyneside refused to be taken over by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust last year, despite a push from the local CCG, and are now looking at a ‘plan B’ model.

Northumbria Primary Care Ltd runs the Ponteland Medical Group in Ponteland, Collingwood Medical Group in Blyth, Cramlington Medical Group in Cramlington, Spring Terrace Health Centre in North Shields and 49 Marine Avenue Surgery in Whitley Bay.

The move towards salaried general practice

This year, Pulse has reported on scores of practices where all the partners are planning to, or have already gone salaried to hospital tusts.

A recent Pulse survey has revealed that more than half of partners said that they would now consider becoming salaried if offered the right deal, while only one in five GPs feels the current partnership model will exist in 10 years’ time. 

And, as Pulse has reported previously, this move towards salaried practise forms part of a trend.

Official figures show that in September 2009, 69% of all GPs in England were partners while 20.5% were salaried; in September 2015, this had changed to 55% and 24%.