GPs crank up contract pressure
23 January 2013
Grassroots GPs are helping the BMA keep up the pressure on the government over the forced changes to their contract.
Family doctors still have time to make their voice heard by completing the BMA survey on the proposed imposition in England.
Meanwhile, GPs have been lobbying MPs and sounding out the opinions of local colleagues.
Nearly half of the 2,700 GPs who responded to a local medical committees survey warned that working patterns could be ‘dangerously unsustainable’ if the imposition took effect in England from April.
Interim results of a survey on GP workload pressures, organised by LMCs in south-west England, show 60 per cent of respondents believe their practices would struggle to be viable as a result of the imposition.
More than 90 per cent feel they work longer hours and at a greater intensity, and handle more complex health matters than they did three years ago.
BMA GPs committee chair Laurence Buckman said: ‘The results of this survey … give an indication of the feeling among GPs about the changes to the contract.
‘The BMA is conducting a survey of all GPs across England, and I would urge all GPs to fill it in. It is crucial that GPs take this chance to … help shape the BMA’s response to these proposals.’
Separately, Solihull GP Janet Leese met Meriden Conservative MP Caroline Spelman to express concerns about the impact of the changes on patients.
In a letter to Ms Spelman, Dr Leese spells out the financial impact of losing quality and outcomes framework funding and the MPIG (minimum practice income guarantee) on her surgery.
She writes that the MPIG represents 17.8 per cent of the practice’s funding. Proposals to scrap the organisational domain of the QOF will have a more immediate impact.
She writes: ‘As a relatively small practice in a relatively affluent area, these changes are liable to remove at a stroke around [up to] £30,000 per annum from our income … I have absolutely no idea how to plan to lose such a large amount of money from our budget — we have already pared our expenses back to the bone.
‘If the above changes are implemented, followed by the removal of the MPIG, we will certainly have to cut services and may have no option but to close, because the latter is worth around £36,000 per year to us.’
The GPC has warned that GPs are currently ‘over-stretched’ in terms of workload and proposals to make them focus on new work will put them under enormous strain.
Ms Spelman said she had raised the issue of the sustainability of rural GP practices with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
She added: ‘This is not a new problem. But previous governments weighted urban deprivation so heavily that it worked against GP practices in rural areas.’
- Welsh GP leaders are considering rejoining contract talks after the Welsh government suggested it would reconsider plans to remove the MPIG.
The BMA Welsh GPs committee withdrew from talks earlier this month, partly because it could not support removal of the MPIG. BMA Cymru Wales is awaiting a new draft of the proposals for discussion.
What you can do
- Go to bma.org.uk/gpcontract to: take part in the BMA survey to help shape the response to the government’s consultation, which ends on February 26
- Find out about the more than 30 UK roadshows and listen to GP negotiators explain the impact and what you can do
- Read updates