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GPs forced to stop non-core services due to growing workload pressures

Eight GP practices in Buckinghamshire have been forced to stop providing underfunded non-core services, due to growing workload.

Writing to Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs last December, the practices announced their decision to cease the provision of seven different services by August this year at the latest.

These include ear syringing, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring, spirometry for diagnosis, ECGs, ring pessary, PSA monitoring and MGUS monitoring.

The practices wrote: ‘Due to increasing workload pressures, the practices in the southern locality have audited the workload due to non-GMS work that is in other areas funded by a local enhanced service.

‘Some practices have already ceased some of these activities and as a locality, we have discussed this today and given the CCG notice as this will impact other currently commissioned services.’

Writing to NHS Buckinghamshire CCG on the practices’ behalf at the end of January, the LMCs chief executive Matt Mayer said he ‘fully supports’ the practices.

Mr Mayer wrote that in light of a growing workload for practices, one that is often not accompanied by a corresponding increase in resources, ‘practices are quite right to prioritise their essential core services over non-contractual unfunded services’.

Commenting on the practices’ decision, the BMA said the practices’ decision should not be viewed as a discontinuation of services, but instead as a step towards ensuring quality patient care.

BMA GP committee executive team workload lead Dr Farah Jameel said: ‘If work is done without appropriate funding, GPs are forced to stretch themselves to the extent that they risk the quality and safety of the essential service they are contracted to provide to their patients.

‘Examples such as this are not about restricting GP services. They are about providing safe, quality and accessible care to patients.’

Dr Farah added not providing non-core services will allow the practices to focus on urgently ill patients and save appointments.

A version of this article was first published in Pulse’s sister publication Management in Practice.