More than 1,000 GPs back petition condemning PCN plans

More than 1,350 GPs have signed a petition demanding a complete overhaul of draft service specifications for primary care networks (PCNs) as pressures grows on policy makers.

Online petition (Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images)
Online petition (Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images)

A petition by campaign group GP Survival amassed close to 600 signatures in the first 24 hours after launching on Sunday and signatories have more than doubled since, hitting 1,355 by 13 January.

It calls on NHS England to bring the specifications in line with a position statement by the group, which condemns the draft specifications as 'an incoherent, buzzword-heavy, dishonest, politically-motivated mess'.

GP Survival suggests scrapping all targets to allow PCNs to focus on local priorities and ‘do what they feel is most important’, and warns that the greatest problem with the draft plans is funding - it warns that accessing funding available through PCNs 'will result in practices losing hundreds of millions of pounds of their own money'.

The campaign for major change to the draft requirements comes as GPs piled pressure on the government to scrap draft specifications for PCNs, with some LMCs advising practices to avoid signing the PCN DES completely.

Frontline response

Organisers say the petition allows frontline clinicians to respond to the NHS consultation - acknowledging that some GPs will miss the deadline to respond formally. They hope the campaign will also help NHSE to understand the ‘strength and depth’ of feeling across the profession and have a positive impact.

Speaking about the petition, London GP Dr Nicholas Grundy, who has previously led work around the pensions crisis for GP Survival, told GPonline: ‘We recognise that clinicians working on the frontline are less likely to respond to surveys formally than non-medical people, and those with vested interests.

‘As such, we think that the petition format helps NHSE understand the strength and depth of feeling across elements of the profession they would not otherwise have heard from.’

Dr Grundy predicted there would be a string of resignations by practices from the network DES if specifications remained unchanged and explained the importance of the group’s position statement.

‘This [level of work] is not something which can be taken on by primary care GPs – this is a full-time role for thousands of doctors nationally, delivering an entirely new service on a trial basis to see if it works – and being paid to do so. As it stands, it would be disastrous for patient care, workforce retention and recruitment, and for the day-to-day operation of primary care,’ he said.

Potential GP losses

Those wishing to have their say on the draft specifications have until Wednesday this week to feed back to the NHS England consultation.

Many LMCs have produced responses and issued advice to practices, with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMC warning that practices stand to lose £105,000 by signing up to the network DES in its current form.

The BMA has urged GPs to voice their concerns about the draft specifications by Wednesday and has assured the profession it is listening to concerns despite chooisng not to publish a public response to the draft doucment.

You can find out more about the group’s petition here, or feedback to the NHS England consultation here.

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