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New year, new network workload dump

I’m not trying to brag but I have eight unread books on my desk, largely because my Christmas list consisted of the word ‘books’.

But instead of trying to make a start on my literary pile during what could laughably be called yuletide/New Year GP down-time, I’ve been ploughing through the new draft outline for the service specifications for PCNs – you know, those ‘sticks’ that were promised in year two of the PCN revolution, after the carrots of year one, kicking off with enhanced care in residential homes and structured medication reviews?

I’ve just read NHS England’s 41-page document and it’s led to a pre-emetic sense of panic, which surely cannot be attributed to a seasonal sprout OD.

What we have is an unachieveable wish list/workload dump

What we have here is an unachieveable/unsustainable wish list/workload dump which even on scan-reading left me feeling demoralised and exhausted.

Not that I recommend scan-reading, because it’ll make you to miss little gems like section 3.12, in the ‘enhanced health in care homes’ part: ‘In future years we will consider whether and how to bring out-of-hours provision under the authority of PCNs, to ensure more effective and co-ordinated out of hours support for care homes’.

Yup. Oh, and did I mention that this document was released on 23rd December, with a closing date for comments of 15th January? It’s almost like they’re trying to sneak it through unnoticed.

Of course, they’ll say this is work for PCNs, not GPs, and it’ll ease GP workload, not increase it. To which I say, frankly, bollocks. We have to find the staff, employ the staff, train the staff, monitor the staff and then cover for the staff when they are (inevitably) off sick, at the same time cranking up patient expectations and dancing to the tune of various new ‘metrics’.

So for gawd’s sake, and for what it’s worth, fill out the online survey. Predictably, five of the six questions take as their starting point that this is all self-evidently a great idea, and ask only if we could do more, or better. But one question (number four) asks if it is manageable. Tell them, now, that it isn’t; that this way madness and resignations lie. On the plus side, at this rate, I’m going to have plenty of time to read.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield