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GPC warns NHS England may use call data to ‘performance manage’ practices

GPC warns NHS England may use call data to ‘performance manage’ practices

The BMA’s GP Committee England has raised concerns that NHS England could use cloud-based telephony data to ‘performance manage’ GP practices.

GPC England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer raised the concerns during an online roadshow last week, warning that the data collected could be used to check if practices close for lunch, or take half days, among other issues.

The 2024/25 GP contract was amended to require practices to provide digital telephony data on eight metrics through a national data extraction, for use by NHS England, ICBs and PCNs.

NHS England said that the purpose of extracting this data ‘will be to better understand overall demand on general practice in advance of winter’ and its national director of primary care Dr Amanda Doyle said that there will be ‘absolutely no targets associated with it’ and ‘no financial implications for it’.

But GP leaders told Pulse that the data could be used to identify practices who are underperforming or even ‘quoted against GPs’.

Dr Bramall-Stainer told attendees at the roadshows: ‘We’ve all signed up to the cloud based telephony, that’s last year. This year, they’re going to want to use the metrics, from your digital telephony, to performance manage you. Those eight core metrics will look at what time you open and what time you close.

‘If you’re closing on a traditional half day, or you’re closing for an hour for lunch, all of these things you’ll be performance managed against.

‘We’re being told this is to actually make the case for greater investment over winter. Come on, they have got huge amounts of data to be able to invest in us over winter. That is simply not the case. I’m afraid I don’t believe it.

‘I think we’ll be told “you might be going at 98 miles an hour on your hamster wheel, but your other PCN practices are going at 106 and 109”.

‘“You’re the least resilient and the worst working out of the lot of you, you need to up your game to reduce the variance across the PCN”.’

The roadshow was set up to explain how practices can take part in ‘collective action’ expected  to commence on 1 August, depending on the result of a ballot for GP partners which will close on Monday 29 July.

As part of collective action, the GPC is advising practices to ‘not agree yet to share call volume data metrics with NHS England’.

Dr Bramall-Stainer added: ‘What we’re asking you to do is: don’t help them. Don’t declare your compliance that you’re happy to share your data metrics before they make you do so.’

The eight metrics

  • call volumes
  • calls abandoned
  • call times to answer
  • missed call volumes
  • wait time before call abandoned
  • call backs requested
  • call backs made
  • average call length time

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘It is inaccurate to say NHS England will performance manage practices using digital telephony data – access to digital telephony data is about supporting general practice teams and improving patient experience of contacting their practice.

‘The data obtained from digital telephony enables practices to see a single view of all requests, whether it’s online, phone or walk-in, so they can assess and stream patients to the most appropriate care, such as an appointment or another local service.  

‘This will also enable practices and local, regional and national NHS teams, for the first time, to get a better, fuller picture of the demand that practices are experiencing, allowing teams to identify ways to better manage demand and improve care in the future.’

As revealed by Pulse, other options included by the GPC in their menu for collective action include refusing to engage in advice and guidance and seeing patients ‘face to face as a default’.

The GPC said it is up to practices to choose which actions to take from a menu of actions proposed by the union.

The committee will be ‘inviting GP partners to work with their practice management team’ and, working in liaison with their LMC, ‘determine the actions they will be willing to take’.

Earlier this year, the GPC asked NHS England to immediately pause its cloud-based telephony project, following concerns around ‘skyrocketing’ costs for GP practices.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Just My Opinion 2 July, 2024 1:09 pm

Of course they will, this was always the plan.

Yes Man 3 July, 2024 8:26 am

Performance management is a good thing when done correctly. When done correctly, when done correctly. And it never is. Catch 22.