Contract reforms could spark GP exodus from NHS

One in eight GPs would quit the NHS if the DH goes ahead with plans to overhaul the GMS contract and thousands would cut back on involvement with CCGs because of rising workload, a BMA poll suggests.

Dr Laurence Buckman: changes asking too much of GPs
Dr Laurence Buckman: changes asking too much of GPs

The full BMA response to the DH consultation on GMS contract plans for 2013/14 included findings from a survey of 7,746 GPs in England.

A total of 13% of GPs who took part in the poll said they would leave the NHS as a result of the contract imposition. Nearly two thirds of these GPs - 63% - said they would be retiring earlier than previously planned. More than 30% of those planning to leave the NHS said they would seek work as a doctor in another country and more than 20% said they would seek work in a different career.

A total of 82% of GPs who took part said the contract changes would affect their workload. Of these, nearly half said they would have to increase their hours, more than 30% said they would reduce the amount of training they provide, nearly 40% said they would have to increase the amount they work outside their practice to maintain their income and more than 40% said they would have to reduce personal contact with their CCG.

The BMA said that the reduction in the number of GPs providing training is likely to have a ‘significant impact’ on DH plans to increase general practice training places and on the future of general practice over the long term.

The government pledged last year to increase the proportion of speciality training places taken by GP registrars to 50% by 2015, from 41% at the time the pledge was made.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman warned the contract changes could threaten GP involvement in commissioning. ‘As advocates of clinically-led commissioning, we are very concerned about this, and disappointed that the changes to the contract will reduce the chance of adequate engagement and input from general practice.

‘We believe that the proposals simply ask too much of an already stretched service. GPs are going to be forced to look carefully at their work and to prioritise their commitments and services. In particular the increasing pressure on GPs within their practices will leave less time for development of fledgling CCGs.’

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