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BMA warns against reinstating bureaucracy as over half of GPs feel less burdened

NHS GP contract

The Government must ‘reflect very carefully’ before reintroducing GP bureaucracy, the BMA has warned, as its latest tracker survey found over half of GPs feel relieved by the temporary easing during the pandemic.

The BMA’s latest coronavirus survey of 2,500 GPs found over half (55%) said they felt ‘less burdened’ by bureaucracy as a result of coronavirus measures, while 82% said the reduced paperwork must be retained in the long term.

Half of respondents wanted QOF to remain suspended after the pandemic, while 59% and 54% called for less frequent appraisals and fewer or no CQC inspections respectively.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that the ‘burden’ of contract management must be reduced to ‘improve morale’ in general practice, and that the Government must ‘avoid going back to systems that were causing stress and difficulty for many practices in the recent past’.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘All of these are a sign of the workload pressures that practices were previously under prior to the pandemic. 

‘The last thing anybody wants is to go back to the same situation on top of having to deal with the pandemic for the next few months or even year or two as we go forward.’

The Government must learn from the pandemic rather than returning to ‘business as usual’, Dr Vautrey added.

He said: ‘There’s always a temptation for systems to revert back if not thought through carefully and that’s why it is important for NHS England and the Government to reflect very carefully on the lessons learned in recent weeks.’

And ‘contract management’ was one of the reasons that GPs were feeling ‘burnt out’ and leaving the profession, he added.

He said: ‘If we’re wanting to improve morale in general practice as a whole we need to keep the burden reduced – part of which is the unnecessary bureaucracy that comes with contract management.’

The survey also found that nine in 10 GPs want to carry on delivering consultations remotely after the coronavirus pandemic has ended. 

It comes as the GMC announced an extension to GP revalidation dates eligible for deferral due to the coronavirus pandemic this week.

Meanwhile, Pulse revealed earlier this month that the BMA is ‘in talks’ around the future of QOF payments for the remainder of 2020/21. 

The RCGP also warned last month that GP bureaucracy must not return to pre-pandemic levels.