The government’s failure to listen to the concerns of thousands of family doctors about changes to the GP contract in England will undermine how patient services are delivered, the BMA warned today (Monday, 18 March 2013).
The warning came as the Department of Health confirmed a raft of changes to the GP contract in England that will come into force on 1 April 2013. The government’s proposals will see general practice facing a range of new targets and additional workload responsibilities, as well as reductions in the central funding that many practices receive.
These changes are being implemented despite thousands of GPs expressing concerns about the proposals in a BMA survey that was submitted, along with other evidence, to the government’s consultation on the changes1.
Dr Laurence Buckman, Chair of the BMA’s GP committee said:
“GPs are committed to working with patients and the government to deliver the highest quality of care to the public.
“However, ministers have completely failed to take on board the concerns of thousands of GPs about the cumulative impact of these proposals on general practice. Practices will face numerous new targets that will divert valuable clinical time and resources towards box ticking and administrative work.
“The decision to make changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QoF) from 2014/15 and other funding areas will make it more difficult for practices to maintain services. This comes at a time when many practices are already struggling to cope under the pressure of rising workload and shrinking resources.
“A BMA survey that drew nearly 8,000 responses demonstrated that the impact of these changes would result in GPs considering reducing patient access and staffing hours.
“Last year, the BMA and NHS Employers came close to agreeing a tough, but fair package of changes that would have resulted in real improvements for patients. These talks were ended when the government decided to pull the plug and threaten to impose their own proposals. This has been followed by a total failure to listen to grassroots GPs during the recent consultation.
“It is unacceptable that the government has ignored this weight of opinion and ploughed ahead with so many ill thought out proposals that run the risk of destabilising patient care.”