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A kick in the teeth for all GPs

Short-term boost

In hindsight, my blog from yesterday looks charmingly naïve. What was released this morning was an insult to every GP in England.

Yes, there were plans for removing social distancing from practices. But this turned out to be a mere footnote. Alongside this were plans to target the 20% of practices with the lowest proportion of face-to-face appointments, with a threat of contractual sanctions if they don’t improve. I can’t put this better than Pulse PCN’s own columnist Julian Paterson:

There is a target to increase the volume of appointments. Yes, that’s what it says. Not only that, but this excludes Covid vaccinations.

Patients will be sent a text immediately after their appointments to ask their satisfaction levels, which will eventually be translated into financial incentives that will form a decent chunk of general practice funding.

And GP appointment data will be published on a practice level.

My experience of reporting on these support packages is that the most gruesome elements only reveal themselves days after release. If that is the case here – and I suspect it will be – one can only imagine what horrors are involved.

It is being heralded as ‘support’ in some areas, but this is the mouldiest of all carrots. A £250m winter fund – barely more than normal, and we are facing the worst winter ever – and the removal of little bits of bureaucracy. Oh, and a promise to tackle abuse. To me, it’s embarrassing that they feel they need to say this explicitly – I would have hoped this would be implicit.

You only need to look at the reaction to see how bad this plan is. The BMA have put out a strong statement. But even the RCGP – not always known for rocking the boat – can’t find anything nice to say about it. And (although I personally dislike the rehabilitation of his reputation) when even Jeremy Hunt comes out on GPs’ side against the government, that speaks volumes.

General practice will survive, because it always does and the people working in it are truly special. I’ve seen so many GPs who have been punched in the gut this morning. The next steps in countering this can wait. Right now, you have every right to just be angry.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at


Vinci Ho 14 October, 2021 2:23 pm

You are not naive , Jaimie
You see, I did not expect less than what they had announced in totality .
You have to understand this is part of the grand plan to put the last nail in the coffin , or last straw on camel’s back as I wrote under the other article today .
If you are part of the political engine : propaganda media-Ministry of Plenty-Secretary of State-the ruling party , you would be wrong not to include this ‘measurements’ for 20% alongside with the rescue package announced today .
And also , as I wrote today , the government is both incompetent and duplicitous . The rescue package will be politically meaningless without punitive measures . For those who understand politics well always remember this rule of thumb.
I would go with exactly the same strategy making these announcements if I were part of this political machine 😈

Vinci Ho 14 October, 2021 2:27 pm

Furthermore, divide and conquer.
20% is good enough to be marginalised 😈

Patrufini Duffy 14 October, 2021 3:27 pm

This Government killed off 160,000 patients and got away with it. Never experienced an atmosphere so toxic and deplorable.

Katharine Morrison 14 October, 2021 5:37 pm

The doctors and practices who are vilified will leave even sooner. What a way to run a health system.

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Martin Williams 14 October, 2021 7:30 pm

What is Toryism but organised spivvery? … No amount of cajolery can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party … So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.
Nye Bevan, July 1948

David Ansell 14 October, 2021 9:04 pm

Out of my 21 face to face appointments today, 3 patients asked why on earth they had to come in to see me when it could have been done over the phone..

Another 4 could have saved time by a phone call.

One face to face, that could easily have been a phone call, failed to attend as their mother was ill so they could not leave. They did not cancel, so no alternative phone slot was available for them.

To get the f2f numbers back up to precovid (pre remote triage service investment ) the government is now forcing all patients to attend in person otherwise they penalise the practice and their patients.

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