GPC rejects £1 billion claim

GP leaders have dismissed a 'poorly researched' report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that says 'outdated and rigid' general practice costs the economy £1 billion a year in missed working hours.

The GPC says 'Just What the Patient Ordered', published this week, is riddled with mistakes.

Companies failing to provide their workers with adequate occupational health services were to blame for the majority of the £1 billion lost every year to staff missing work for GP appointments, the GPC said.

In its report, which demands an overhaul of primary care, the CBI blames inflexible opening hours and the ban on dual registration for lost working hours.

The report says that GPs' 'monopoly' that GPs in primary care should be broken with the introduction of more alternative provider medical services (APMS) deals for private firms to force surgeries to lower costs and improve services or face closure.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman blamed the volume of GP visits on suspicious bosses making their staff provide a sick note signed by their GP as proof that they were not skiving.

'The CBI fails to recognise how practices now offer patients care for conditions like diabetes, for which patients used to need a hospital appointment,' Dr Buckman said.

'Is it possible that the CBI is hoping its members will be able to take part in the future privatisation of the health service?'

He said the CBI's report described 'an NHS of long ago'.

A poll commissioned by the CBI report found 31 per cent of patients struggled to book an appointment at a convenient time.

CBI deputy director general John Cridland said: 'It's not just about the cost to the taxpayer. A healthy workforce is as important to employers as a workforce with the skills to compete. In the 21st century it should be possible to have a doctor close to work and close to home.'

The DoH backed the report and said it saw a larger role for private companies in primary care in the future. A spokesman said: 'The Secretary of State has asked Lord Darzi to include in his interim report in October proposals on how we can make primary care more accessible to people in their daily lives.

'We will investigate expanding new providers of additional GP services with Virgin, Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy. This will mean that services will be available closer to where people are such as in the high street and near the workplace.'

CBI report

  • Call for dual registration.
  • DoH should award more APMS contracts to compete with existing GPs.
  • GPC says report is 'poorly researched'.
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