Exclusive: Campaign launched to help GPs push back against NHS red tape

GPs in London are being urged to take control of their workload and to push back against bureaucracy and pressures from commissioners in a campaign launched by Londonwide LMCs.

Dr Michelle Drage: campaign for GP resilience (Photo: JH Lancy)

The GP Resilience campaign, launched on Monday, will give advice and support to practices to ensure resources are dedicated to patient care rather than NHS red tape.

A public-facing publicity campaign will rally support for GPs by explaining why there are access problems in the capital. Posters blaming NHS red tape for appointment waits and GPs’ lack of time will be displayed in waiting rooms with calls to ‘unblock general practice’.

Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage told GP the campaign would help empower practices to create the time GPs need for patients. GPs alone cannot tackle government policy, rising demand, lack of community services and workload created by hospitals, she said, but they can develop resilience to these pressures.

Stand up against bureaucracy

GPs and practice staff are so demoralised that many have forgotten how to stand up against bureaucracy, she warned. ‘By standing up and making sure you minimise your involvement with that, and maximise your time with your patients - which might mean saying "no" at times, and might mean saying "yes" better - you can create more time,' said Dr Drage.Londonwide LMCs 'GP Resilience' poster

‘It's about saying to practices: "Actually, it's really bad, but there are things we can do".’

Londonwide LMCs will produce a series of easily accessible, straightforward resilience guides on key areas such as finance, performance, bullying and intimidation, federations and protecting practice interests, which will be available to all practice staff on a dedicated campaign website: www.gpresilience.org.uk. A conference for GPs and practice staff will be held in February to offer further support to practices.

The public side of the campaign, said Dr Drage, is about warning patients that although they are being fed the message that GPs will not give them access,  the 'real reason you can't get access is they are all tied up with bureaucracy'. Patients need to be told that cutting that out 'would free up time to look after you’, said Dr Drage.

Help patients understand pressure on GPs

‘Patients as a group are very supportive of general practice. The kind of general practice they want to continue is under threat from all of these other things. So [the campaign aims to] get them onside, and help them understand that GP do want to provide services for them and it's the system that needs changing. And they can do that if they support us.’

The campaign will encourage practices to calculate which bits of work are creating too much bureaucracy. ‘Many of these contractual schemes drain your cash,' said Dr Drage. 'Practices should be thinking carefully about whether some additional contractual services are worth signing up for.

‘It might make absolute sense that there is an incentive scheme to improve care in one direction, but it might make no sense whatever to have 101 hoops to jump through to get it. 

GPs should push back against the pressure to jump through hoops, Dr Drage said, and feel empowered to use their voices in CCGs.

‘Sometimes practices are so war-weary that these things happen by default. We want practices to strengthen their voices. The attention of CCGs ought to be on supporting practices to do what they're meant to do, and incentives shifted in that direction.’

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