As this is my first communication of 2016, let me first wish you belated New Year greetings. After a gruelling 2015, when GPs suffered unmanageable workload and workforce pressures, it is vital that the Government uses this year to deliver on providing general practice with the resources, infrastructure and capacity to ensure its future sustainability. This is at the heart of why we are holding our forthcoming LMC special conference on 30 January 2016.
We are kicking off the New Year with an important survey of English practices about their experiences and the impact of CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspections. This comes at a time when the CQC has announced proposals for an unjustified, illogical and punitive seven-fold increase in GP fees, which I covered in my e-newsletter last November.
In 2015 the local medical committees conference and BMA annual representative meeting voted to end the current inspection process on the basis of it being unfit for purpose. Furthermore, the BMA’s biggest-ever GP survey last year revealed that over-regulation is in the top four negative factors impacting on GPs.
The survey results will help us to argue our case from the first-hand experience of GP practices themselves. The survey covers the impact on practices in preparing for and coping with a CQC inspection. It will strengthen our position to hear from as many practices as possible, including those yet to receive CQC inspections.
Complete our CQC survey
Please complete our short survey. We are requesting one response per GP practice,
which may be completed by a lead GP or practice manager. The survey should take
no more than five to 10 minutes to complete. Your views will help inform discussions
at the LMC special conference on 30 January, towards developing practical solutions to
address the crisis in general practice.
Making time for general practice — strategies to reduce workload
I am pleased to announce that the BMA GPs committee is partnering with NHS England to hold a series of workshop-style roadshows commencing from the end of February, which will discuss ways to reduce GP workload and manage demand. This follows NHS England’s commissioned report Making Time in General Practice, which highlighted that 27 per cent of GP appointments were potentially avoidable owing to inappropriate demands on our time. The report put forward practical recommendations to address this, chiming with our own document Quality First: managing workload to deliver safe patient care.
These NHS England-funded events, being held across various sites in England, are free to attend, and will have LMC involvement. It will be an opportunity to share and learn about solutions being implemented by practices around England. The dates of the workshops, sample agenda and how to book can be found on NHS England’s website. Spaces are limited and I would strongly encourage practices to book early.
Supporting junior doctors
Sadly, the lack of meaningful progress in the negotiation talks, resumed last month, left the BMA with no alternative but to reinstate industrial action, as it endeavours to negotiate a fair contract for junior doctors, which recognises the central role they play in delivering patient care across the NHS.
The first day of action went ahead from 8am yesterday for 24 hours, providing emergency care only to patients. A further two dates have been scheduled – 26 January, providing emergency care only, and with full withdrawal of labour on 10 February. You can read more about the industrial action and the BMA guidance for general practices.
We applaud our junior doctors for standing firm in demanding a fair and safe workload. We are one profession. We stand together.
As always, you can keep in touch with the latest news on bma.org.uk/gpc
BMA GPs committee chair
A positive outcome on avoiding unplanned admissions enhanced service care plan review payments
We are aware that some practices failed to receive full payment for their September 2015 claims of the avoiding unplanned admissions enhanced service, owing to ambiguity in wording in the specification.
The specification requires practices to conduct a single annual review during 2015/16 on patients who were previously on the register as of 1 April 2015. However, the payment in the September claim was based on whether a review on existing patients occurred in the immediate 12 months prior. This meant that practices planning to complete their annual reviews throughout 2015/16 may have missed out if these were carried out after September.
We have successfully negotiated agreement with NHS England that full payment will be made to all practices that have completed a review on their patients on the register by 31 March 2016, on the condition that they also fulfil the other requirements of the enhanced service.
If your practice has been affected, please contact your area team, and you can also seek assistance from your local medical committee. If you still have difficulties, please email the GPC.
Parental leave reimbursement to be paid for up to 26 weeks
As part of the 2015/16 contract agreement, as of 1 April 2015, all practices are entitled to non-discretionary reimbursement of the cost of GP cover for parental leave – that is maternity/paternity/adoption leave.
There have been discrepancies in the SFE (statement of financial entitlements), which have led to variations across England in how local area teams have interpreted the maximum period of leave allowed for reimbursement.
In December, NHS England confirmed that that these payments are to be made up to a maximum of 26 weeks with immediate effect. Reimbursement will cover external locums and GPs already working in the practice (existing employees or partners) but who do not work full time.
Further information is available in the 2015/16 GMS guidance and from NHS Employers.
GPC in the media – practice list closures rise across the country
The BMA media office has been working for a number of months with the BBC on an investigation into the extent of GP practice list closures.
The story reached fruition last week and received widespread coverage, with GPC representatives appearing on BBC Breakfast, the BBC 6pm and 10pm News, the News Channel, and Five Live, and further coverage in the Telegraph and a large number of regional newspapers (thank you to all GPC representatives who appeared on local radio stations).
You can read my response here and the BBC online coverage here. It came in a busy week for GPC coinciding with a new study from the Journal of General Practice about stress and burnout forcing GPs to leave the profession. Our response, was picked up by the Times and others.
We also responded to the release of the latest patient survey figures, which showed continued high satisfaction with GP practice performance. Our statement can be read here.