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#GPnews: Visa change proposals will bring about GP recruitment pledge failure, BMA warns

17.21 A report in The Independent suggests health secretary Jeremy Hunt is ‘acting as a recruitment agent’ for overseas hospitals after data showed there was a 1,000% spike in the number of doctors applying for documentation to work abroad on the day of the junior doctor contract imposition.

According to the paper, 300 doctors applied for Certificates of Good Standing on Thursday 11 February – up from an average of 26 each day earlier on in the month.  

15.50 The RCGP has issued a response to the Health Foundation’s analysis of the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 primary care survey, titled ‘Under Pressure’ which found UK GPs are more stressed than GPs in other countries.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ’It is no surprise that this report has found such high levels of stress amongst GPs in the UK compared to other countries when you consider that despite increasing workload, both in terms of volume and complexity, resources into general practice have been decreasing over the last ten years and our workforce has remained relatively stagnant.

’Having such stressed – and exhausted – doctors is a threat to our patients’ safety, our own health, and the sustainability of the NHS as family doctors are becoming dissatisfied with their working circumstances and consider leaving the profession. The College has been calling for both workable solutions to reduce GP fatigue in the best interests of patient care, and for measures to be implemented to retain our current workforce, for some time.’

Pulse reported on the Commonwealth Fund survey in December and you can read the full article here.

14.55 The BMA has warned the Government against implementing new recommendations from the Migrations Advisiory Committee (MAC), which it says would ‘disrupt the Government from achieving its pledge to… recruit 5,000 extra GPs’.

In a comment piece published by Pulse today, BMA deputy chair and retired GP Dr Kailash Chand warns that the proposed visa changes could ‘starve the NHS of overseas doctors’. In the piece, Dr Chand argues that BME doctors – like himself – are ’an essential and irreplaceable asset to the NHS’ which must be better recognised.

The BMA’s concerns focus on the MAC’s recommendations for:

  • international doctors trained in the UK to become subject to the Resident Labour Market Test when moving from foundation year 2 to specialty training;
  • setting the immigration skills charge at £1000 per year;
  • and increasing the minimum salary threshold from £20,800 to £30,000.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said that ’implementing these recommendations would also risk losing those doctors from the NHS who need to work less than full time, and will at the same time remove desperately needed money from front-line NHS services’.

He added: ’The government must consider specific exemptions for the NHS in order to ensure we have the necessary workforce to provide patients with the care they deserve.’ 

14.10 A further 2,500 patients will lose their local GP practice at the end of next month, despite a patient petition to save it, reports the South Yorkshire Times.

Hundreds of patients who had campaigned to save Bents Green Surgery said the closure would be ‘devastating’ to the people of their Sheffield suburb.

According to the paper, the closure comes as NHS England failed to replace two GPs who left the practice six months ago.

13.03 Chief executive Rob Webster is leaving NHS Confederation to become chief executive of the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the NHS Confederation has announced.

Chair Stephen Dorrell said: ’The Trustees of the Confederation join me in congratulating Rob on his new appointment and thanking him for the contribution he has made to the development of the NHS Confederation.

‘Rob is both well liked and well respected throughout the NHS, and has made an important contribution to building the Confederation as the authentic voice of the NHS and we are grateful for the support he has given to strengthening the organisation.’

Mr Webster, who has been chief executive for the NHS managers’ membership body since February 2014, said the ’time is now right’ for him ’to return to frontline care’.

12:00 In case you missed it earlier, Pulse revealed that the head of Health Education England – Professor Ian Cumming – has warned trusts that they may not receive funding for training places if they offer junior doctors their own contract rather than the contract imposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It’s already caused controversy in the comments – it’s been described as ’utterly disgraceful’ by one.

09.30 GPs are having to refer an increasing number of patients for gambling addiction, as it reaches epidemic levels across Britain, reports the Times.

Last year GPs referred almost 1,000 patients to a specialist National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which has become the first to prescribe patients with medication to curb their gambling addiction.

According to the paper, the clinic has since two months ago begun prescribing naltrexone, a drug more commonly used to treat alcohol and drug dependency.

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, from the clinic, told the Times: ’The medication is used to stop the most compulsive gamblers who are resistant to treatment. It helps stop craving.’

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