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GP contract changes ‘destabilising’, warn BMA


22 February 2013

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Proposed changes to the GP contract in England risk “putting targets before patients” and “destabilising” services, the British Medical Association (BMA) have warned.

Proposed changes to the GP contract in England risk “putting targets before patients” and “destabilising” services, the British Medical Association (BMA) have warned.

Government proposals could see general practice facing higher Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) targets and reductions in central funding, the BMA said. 
“GPs will struggle to reconcile the Government’s desire to increase workload and introduce new priorities with the significant constriction of resources and capacity heralded by these proposals,” said Dr Laurence Buckman, BMA’s GP Committee chair (pictured). 
Proposals 
Practices will be faced with a “raft” of new targets, unnecessary increases in workload and budget cuts, according the BMA analysis. 
In 2014/15 an average practice will lose £31,100 per year because of funding changes, the BMA claims, and others will see their budgets cut more as alterations are made to other funding streams. 
The BMA has also said government proposals, which include asking GPs to refer patients to education programmes only available in a few places, are “not feasible”. 
‘Unintended consequences’
A survey of BMA members in response to the changes found that 60% of GPs expected to make changes to their services. 
More than nine out of ten GPs who expected to make changes thought patients would have to wait longer.
Close to 75% of GPs thought they would have to reduce the number of services and consultations. 
More than 82% of GPs thought working arrangements would have to change, with 22% believing they would need to make clinical staff redundant and 35% believing they would have to reduce administrative staff.
Dr Buckman claims the government has “failed to consider” the unintended consequences of the changes. 
He said: “The changes would make it difficult for practices to maintain the level of care they currently offer while introducing an even greater focus on targets and box ticking at the expense of holistic, patient-centred primary care.” 
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