I had a double take when I saw that line in the NHS England board paper: ‘Through the network contract, we have given the independent contractor model a major shot in the arm.
‘It is now down to PCNs to decide their own long-term future: take responsibility for securing a new generation of partners, or by default (rather than choice) become salaried to other NHS providers.’
It may well have been a case of an overeager junior civil servant, and a line that slipped through the net. But, otherwise, this was a shocking statement that amounted to: ‘We’ve done our bit, and if partnership recruitment doesn’t improve, that’s the fault of the networks.’
I just hope these words aren’t NHS England’s way of passing on its responsibility
If this is truly the attitude then I fear the implications. Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England’s director of primary care, has rightly said on a number of occasions that the new contract is only the first step to sort out the workload and workforce issues in general practice.
There are numerous structural reasons why younger GPs don’t want to become partners, chiefly workload. But this network contract, for its positives, does very little to cut workload, provide incentives to take on partnerships or provide the shot in the arm that will really work: a huge influx of new GPs.
It is not up to GPs to provide answers to recruitment problems, which goes hand-in-hand with saving the partnership model. I just hope these words aren’t NHS England’s way of passing on its responsibility.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org