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Practices decide how many GPs they employ, says minister

Practices decide how many GPs they employ, says minister

The Government has argued that it ‘does not decide how many GPs are in each practice’, in response to GP employment concerns. 

Health minister Maria Caulfield said GP practices are given a contract and they ‘then decide who they directly employ’.

Ms Caulfield was asked what the Government is doing to address GP unemployment during Channel 4’s coverage of a recent BMA survey on the issue, which revealed that more than 80% of GP locums ‘cannot find work’.

The survey also found that over 70% of the 1,852 locum respondents blamed the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) for the employment crisis. 

Addressing this issue, Ms Caulfield explained that the ‘NHS doesn’t directly employ GPs’, but instead awards a contract to GP partners who then ‘decide how many GPs they have’ and the ‘mix of staff’.

She also said the Government is trying to ‘change the model’ of primary care to promote appointments with professionals other than the GP.

‘Primary care needs to reflect as it does in hospitals, where you have a multidisciplinary team. And the GP may not always be the best person to see you.’ 

After pointing to plans to double medical school places, Ms Caulfield was pressed on the current situation of GPs struggling to find work.

She responded: ‘So what we do as a Government is we give the GP contract, which has gone up by £259m this year, to GP practices up and down the country. 

‘They then decide who they directly employ. We do not decide on how many GPs are in each practice or each part of the country.’

The health minister said that in negotiations for this year’s GP contract, the Government heard ‘loud and clear’ concerns from GP partners that they do not have sufficient funds to employ doctors, which influenced the decision to increase the contract by £259m.

But this equates to an uplift of only 1.9% to core funding, which a vast majority of GPs rejected as a ‘derisory’ offer. 

Ms Caulfield said: ‘In negotiations for the forthcoming year, practices will come to us and say they need more money because we’ve got doctors that you’ve trained up and we want to employ them, but the contract isn’t enough. 

‘And that was part of the negotiations we were doing just before the election was called, but we heard that loud and clear for this financial year, that’s why we increased the whole funding envelope by £259m, and we’re hoping that that is making a difference in terms of being able to take on those GPs in individual practices across the country.’

NHS England’s primary care director recently acknowledged the GP employment crisis, saying that the jobs newly qualified GPs would want ‘are not there for them’.

And on Monday, the BMA council chair said that GPs ‘turning to other jobs to earn a living’, while practices cannot meet demand, is ‘simply bonkers’. 



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Nathaniel Dixon 25 June, 2024 1:44 pm

Speaking as a GP Partner, the minister appears to have a probity issue. We used to have control over how many GPs we employed but the ARRS funding bans us from spending this how we think best and forces us not to spend it on GPs. I would also point out they have not increased funding from a contract agreed 5 years ago at very low inflation when there was then subsequently very high inflation and in real terms have cut general practice funding.
She could at least try and maintain some internal logic – on one hand stating GPs decide how many are employed and on the other we must reflect secondary care! Which is it minister?

Scottish GP 25 June, 2024 3:53 pm

Hey Maria, good luck with the new job😁

Michael Green 25 June, 2024 10:21 pm

Bye bye loser government

Off you trot

Yes Man 26 June, 2024 8:18 am

Many partners have shamelessly used ARRS funding to increase their profit margins while becoming complicit in their own demise. Stupidity and greed in equal measures.
As for the government that thinks it can herd GPs into deprived areas, they are instead fleeing the country or changing careers. Well done and bravo 👏🏼

Sal Kal 26 June, 2024 11:03 am

It is sad people like you Maria got hold of the NHS. it is time for you to leave. You are more clueless than ever and hopefully you do not tweak rules before leaving which allows you to be a surgeon in your next job.

Andrew Jackson 26 June, 2024 2:22 pm

This is just untrue and either shows a complete lack of understanding of the difference between core funding or ARRS or is an deliberate untruth.
I agree Partners (I am one) should have perhaps smelt the coffee when ARRS was introduced (some did and pointed this out) but ARRS was the only game in town for many practices to keep going.
It doesn’t look as if Partners are going to be offered any meaningful action based on the BMA suggestions so they will have to do what they can but it will need salaried GPs and locums to also go on strike for ALL to benefit.