These alarming findings show that one in three GP practices are facing financial uncertainty, with nearly 10 per cent of practices declaring themselves financially unsustainable. Added to that, almost half of practices reported expecting to lose GPs in the next year through early retirement or moving abroad, and with the risk of leaving communities of patients without an adequate GP service.
The North East (42 per cent) and East Anglia (41 per cent) have the highest levels of practices reporting GPs considering retirement, while the South (12 per cent), the East Midlands (11 per cent) and the South West (11 per cent) record higher than average intentions of GPs planning to leave the UK.
London had by far the worst figures on financial instability, with the highest level of GP practices concerned their services were unsustainable (14 per cent), the largest proportion reporting their overall financial position was weak (41 per cent) and the lowest number of GP practices reporting their situation as strong (2 per cent).
The survey received widespread press, radio and television media coverage. I appeared on Good Morning Britain, Channel Five News and ITV London, while other colleagues appeared on regional ITV News and a round of regional and local BBC radio stations and on commercial radio stations. The story was covered in the Mail, the Express, the Mirrorand The Guardian, as well as being the headline story on Pulse and GP online.
This publicity has raised further vital awareness among the public, patients and the media of the desperate plight of general practice, and crucially it adds further leverage to the BMA GPs committee’s demands on the Government to implement an urgent rescue package to prevent general practice from imploding.
Practices should play their part to publicise these pressures to their patients, and to also lobby their local MPs. You should have received Urgent Prescription for General Practice resource packs in the post. Each pack includes guidance on what practices can do themselves to manage workload safely, work more effectively such as in collaborative networks, template letters on how to contact local media and lobby your local politicians, as well as patient-focused material. These documents can also be downloaded from the BMA website and I would strongly encourage you to use them.
Public Accounts Committee demands Government action to tackle GP crisis
Today sees the launch of an important independent report from the Public Accounts Committee on access to general practice, which is a damming indictment of the failure of the Government to resource general practice to meet the needs of patients, and vindicates the repeated warnings by the BMA of the depth of the crisis affecting the profession. The report is upfront that ‘there are not enough GPs to meet demand’, and states that the Department of Health and NHS England ‘appear to have been complacent about general practice’s ability to cope with the increase in demand caused by rising public expectations and the needs of an ageing population, many of whom have multiple health conditions’.
This report, from a cross-party membership of MPs, concludes that it will hold the Government to account to implement measures to tackle this crisis, and adds independent weight to our calls for an immediate injection of resources and support for general practice to be stabilised, safe and sustainable.
GPC roadshows – you are welcome to attend
The GPC will be holding a series of roadshows around England, organised through LMCs, starting from today. These events are an opportunity for you to hear from one of the GPC executive team and learn more about the outcome of the England GP 2016/17 contract agreement, ways to manage your workload effectively, GPC’s vision for the future and vitally what a rescue package for general practice should look like. We welcome your views and input, so please plan to attend the event in your region. Details of dates and venues can be found on the BMA website.
With best wishes
BMA GPs committee chair
Contract requirements for the 2015/16 year end
With the year-end approaching, practices are reminded of the 31 March 2016 deadline for elements of the GP contract.
Practices should, on their website and practice leaflet, make reference to the fact that all patients have been allocated a named GP, and include information about patients’ options. The mean earnings for all GPs in their practice should also be published on the website. Read the BMA guidance.
Practices should also offer access to the detailed patient record online, where requested by the patient. Further guidance on these requirements is available in the GMS guidanceand a patient online practice toolkit, including guidance on records access, is available from the Royal College of GPs.
Clarification on pay deductions for junior doctors taking industrial action
We have received reports that some junior doctors working less than full-time have been deducted a full day’s pay for taking industrial action regardless of the actual hours that they were scheduled to undertake.
The legal advice we have received is clear that the making of such a deduction is incorrect and unlawful. If a junior doctor is only scheduled to work a half day, and they fail to work this half day due to taking industrial action, their employer is only permitted to make deductions commensurate to this period.
Employers have made the unlawful deductions based on advice received from NHS SBS (NHS Shared Business Services). We have written to NHS SBS to ensure that their advice to employers is changed immediately. If your employer has deducted payment beyond that which would have been received for the time you were scheduled to work on any day of industrial action then please contact the BMA for further advice.