Proposed contract threatens GPs' ability to cope
13 February 2013
Doctors leaders have warned that contract changes will leave GPs unable to engage with the health service shake-up in Northern Ireland.
Following talks with health, social services and public safety minister Edwin Poots and his officials over the proposed changes to the general medical services contract, BMA Northern Ireland GPs committee chair Tom Black said he believed there was little chance of an agreement being reached before April.
In particular, Dr Black criticised Mr Poots’ description of the impasse as ‘trivial’.
‘I do not believe this will be resolved,’ said Dr Black.
‘The minister and his officials lack the capacity and dynamics to ameliorate this contract to a situation that GPs could cope with.’
‘This will unfortunately impact on patient services in terms of access for sick people and will inevitably result in GPs failing to engage with TYC [Transforming Your Care].’
Out of touch
Dr Black said that following the talks he believed that Mr Poots did not understand the amount of work GPs will be expected to undertake as a result of the contract changes.
‘I don’t think the departmental officials or the minister appreciate that 20 new indicators and 23 thresholds represents a huge workload dump on GPs,’ he said.
‘Some of the targets are impossible to achieve, some of the indicators around new work are irresponsible and non-evidence based.
‘We are continuing our discussions with department officials and continue to work with them to inform them of the risks of this harsh imposition.
‘However, as things stand, I see no prospect of GPs engaging with TYC at any level or in any way.’
Search for accordance
A DHSSPS (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety) spokesperson has said Mr Poots was keen to reach an agreement with the BMA over the proposed contract.
She also said that services must continue to evolve to keep in line with the changes ahead through TYC.
BMA Northern Ireland has warned the proposed contract will result in worse outcomes for patients and will seriously restrict the ability of GPs to treat sick patients.
Dr Black has said that if the DHSSPS imposes the terms of the new contract, GP workloads will increase by up to 15 per cent while TYC will result in 20 per cent more work for GP surgeries.