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GP contract will mean ‘more work and less funding’

GP leaders urge doctors to respond to consultation

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The BMA has warned that changes to the GP contract have not been sufficiently thought-through and may lead to unintended consequences.

In an information resource sent to GPs this week, BMA GPs committee chair Laurence Buckman (pictured) has sets out why GP leaders have been angered by proposals to impose changes to the GP contract in England and Wales from April.

And he is calling on grassroots GPs to get informed and respond to the Department of Health’s consultation on the proposals, which closes next month.

“With your help, we will seek to ensure that GPs get their voice heard by ministers about what these changes mean in reality for GPs, their practices and their patients,” writes Dr Buckman.

And he warns that practices will face “significant increases” in workload and a drop in QOF (quality and outcomes framework) funding if the proposals are imposed.

For example the GPC says providing diabetic dietary advice “could add significant extra costs” and result in longer consultations. In addition, it adds it will be “impossible” for practices in some areas to achieve QOF points for referring patients to programmes such as pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients and exercise-based rehabilitation for patients with heart failure because they are not universally available across the UK.

In addition, Dr Buckman says imposing all the QOF clinical changes recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence could lead to “unintended clinical consequences for some patients”.

The resource warns the workload implications of some indicators are so profound that they could skew healthcare toward a certain section of the patient population.

Moreover, the GPC states that it believes some of the changes the government is seeking are “not based on sound clinical evidence and may not deliver the outcomes that are intended”.

Dr Buckman and his GPC colleagues are urging GPs to read a step-by-step guide of how the changes will affect their practices.

The BMA has stated that it will send an emailed survey to GPs soon to gauge their thoughts. In addition they are invited to attend a series of roadshows across the UK which start on January 21.

Elsewhere in the UK, BMA Cymru Wales has also been unable to reach a settlement and is awaiting a consultation while BMA Northern Ireland GPs committee is still awaiting details of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s approach.

Agreement has already been reached in Scotland.

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