GPs in England believe patient care will worsen

More than 60% of GPs believe patient care in the NHS will get worse over the next few years.

The NHS Staff Tracking Research for England published on Tuesday revealed that compared with an NHS staff average of 53%, 61% of GPs thought that patient care will get worse ‘over the next few years’.

A total of 1,130 NHS staff including 200 GPs were polled for the annual survey in October. They included practice nurses and managers, PCT managers, hospital doctors, secondary care nurses, clinical leaders, community workforce and health visitors.

A total of 42% of the total NHS staff felt that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would have a positive impact on how effectively the NHS operates, compared with 34% the year before.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said GPs' morale is sinking as they believe the government is not listening to them. He said: ‘Sadly the morale of GPs is low and sinking as they struggle to cope with their ever increasing workload and feel undervalued by the government which is not listening to their concerns.

'They are also realistic that, with the prospect of real terms funding cuts in the coming years, hard decisions will have to be made about what the NHS can and cannot afford.  This will undoubtedly have an impact on patient care.’

However, the survey showed that the number of GPs who think it will be possible to increase the quality of care whilst reducing costs rose to 41% compared with 29% the year before.

Across the NHS, only 40% of staff said they understood their own role after the Health and Social Care Act is implemented next April. But amongst GPs it rose from 44% in 2010 to 70% last winter.

The survey also showed that 70% of GPs believe giving patients choice will cost the NHS more money, compared with the 55% average.

Overall, three quarters, 76%, of staff reported they were satisfied with the service the NHS delivers to patients. But satisfaction fell significantly over the past year for practice nurses - 75% last year compared with 84% in 2010 - and NHS managers, 77% last year compared with 85% the year before. The GP figure fell from 74 to 66%.

A DH spokeswoman said: ‘This staff attitudes tracking survey shows that staff remain committed to providing the highest quality of care to their patients, and are proud to work for the NHS.

'Our much larger 2011 staff survey shows no change in the percentage of staff satisfied with the quality of work and patient care they are able to deliver compared with 2010.’

The 2010 survey polled 1,001 NHS staff compared with the recent survey which polled 1,130 people in October.

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