Contract changes and 'chaotic' reform put patients at risk, warns GPC

Sweeping GMS contract changes, chaos over NHS competition rules and the rollout of NHS 111 from April are putting patients at risk, GP leaders have warned.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: warning over impact of changes
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: warning over impact of changes

The GPC hit out at ‘irresponsible’ and ‘vindictive’ contract changes that will put pressure on practices to cut locums, and warned GPs will be forced to spend time ticking boxes at the expense of patient care.

GP leaders also called for a halt in the rollout of NHS 111 from April amid mounting reports of problems in areas across England where the service is already operating.

They also called for the withdrawal of controversial regulations on NHS competition.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said the impact of GP contract changes on patients would be ‘substantial’.

Practices would be forced to ‘jump through hoops’ to earn back cash stripped out of the QOF to pay for proposed directed enhanced services – details of which have yet to be revealed by the NHS Commissioning Board, he added.

GPC negotiators said it was ‘irresponsible’ for the DH to press ahead with plans to make practices responsible for paying locum superannuation.

They warned the move would cut work for locums and hit practice funding.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul added: ‘The 40% of practices in England on PMS contracts have no clarity on how they will receive this funding. I fail to see how the government can proceed with the changes without having worked out how it will operate.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey added that just two weeks before April, practices should not still be waiting for details of enhanced services.

He added that the confusion over competition regulations showed that the GPC had been right to warn that the timetable for implementing CCG-led commissioning was rushed.

‘The system is in chaos, and this was totally predictable,’ he said.

Concerns over NHS 111 have prompted the GPC to write to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson calling for a halt to for an April rollout.

Dr Buckman said NHS 111 should be delayed indefinitely until local organisations were ready to implement it.

He warned that areas where the system was operating had poor triage, unnecessary ambulance callouts or delays in treatment.

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