We are at a point when relatively sensible ideas like pausing health checks for the over 75s, suspending parts of the QOF and income protecting the minor surgery DES are presented even by The Guardian as ‘GPs given green light to provide less care’. Of course, it was even less favourably received by other sections of the media.
The measures announced today and last week were sensible, but also the very minimum. I have little doubt that the current atmosphere around general practice created by the media and the health authorities prevented these measures from going as far as they should. For example, I still can’t see any reason why the whole of QOF couldn’t be suspended – it was suspended in March 2020, and the vaccination campaign alongside all the fears around Omicron makes this winter comparable.
GPs have also been asked to submit proposals to commissioners around what they are doing to ensure patients affected by the QOF suspension have the same level of care. Copperfield brilliantly points out that no one will ever read these proposals, so write what you like. It feels to me like homework set over Christmas to make sure kids don’t forget about school. Which is fine for 11-year-olds, but not for doctors trying to deliver the biggest ever vaccination programme in the middle of a global pandemic.
For NHS England and the Government, there is an element of reaping what they sow: by helping to fuel the media’s negative portrayal of GPs, they’ve tied their hands on many decent solutions to the GP workload crisis.
But that’s not strictly true. Because of course, in reality, it’s GPs who are reaping what the health authorities have sown.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at email@example.com