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GPs risk being ‘overwhelmed’ by commissioning workload

The profession's brightest GPs risk being dragged away from the consulting room by the ‘overwhelming' workloads being presented by new commissioning responsibilities, leading GPs have warned.

At an open discussion at the RCGP's Annual Conference in Liverpool today, leading figures from the RCGP told DH commissioning tsar Dame Barbara Hakin that NHS reforms risked dragging the best GPs away from patient care, and warned commissioners were already struggling to cope with spiralling workloads, despite on-going support form PCTs.

Professor Amanda Howe, RCGP Honorary Secretary, said: ‘I'm very worried about workloads and work pressures. I look at colleagues who are finding the workload overwhelming despite having PCT support around them.'

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said she worried that the best GPs were being taken away from frontline care. ‘We must make sure we don't remove the best of our profession out of [frontline care].'

‘Otherwise we must completely rethink the way GPs are being trained because if they're not being asked to see patients and manage risk and uncertainty then that's a fundamental difference.'

Dame Barbara, herself a former GP, conceded the commissioning workload was a ‘big ask for general practice' but said many GPs already spent part of their time away from frontline care in areas on other roles such as on LMCs or with the RCGP.

Dame Barbara said: ‘We are trying to increase GP numbers, but that will take a while to come through. This is a big ask of general practice and I'm sure that there will be a lot of people in terms of setting this up and getting its going who will work above and beyond the call of duty. [Workload] is a big worry but there is no simple answer to it.'