GPs to demand core hours cut to 9-5 and new contract with workload limits

GPs will debate calls to reduce general practice core hours from 8am-6.30pm to 9am-5pm and to build safe workload limits into a revamped GP contract at next month's UK LMCs conference.

GPs at LMCs conference holding up voting cards

A motion proposed by Avon LMC calls for 'urgent action...to manage the workload/workforce mismatch within general practice' and calls for the core GP contract to be reduced 'to the hours of 9am to 5pm'.

LMCs will also debate a call for BMA GP committees across the UK to 'renegotiate the GMS contracts with workload limits in order to protect all general practice staff and patients'.

Doctors will call for 'credible agreed workload measures' and for the BMA's GP leaders to 'further develop, publicise and strongly advocate worked-up plans to introduce safe workload limits for general practice that do not constitute a breach of contract'.

GP workload

GPs will also debate calls for a change in GMS regulations to allow the immediate removal from practice lists of patients 'for any form of abuse' - following evidence that the vast majority of GPs have experienced an increase in abuse over the past year.

Calls for stronger measures to tackle heavy workload in general practice come after waves of evidence of the impact that intense pressure is having on the profession.

A GMC poll last year found that more than half of GPs were struggling with unmanageable workload, and that a third were at high risk of burnout. Polling by GPonline published earlier this year showed that GP practices were delivering 84% more patient contacts per day than the level considered safe by the BMA.

Meanwhile, GP practices delivered an unprecedented 367m appointments last year - with a full-time equivalent workforce that is around 1,700 doctors smaller than in 2015.

Staff absences

This reduced workforce is facing surging demand driven by record waits for NHS hospital treatment, a growing and ageing population and pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic including widespread staff absences.

GMS contract regulations define core hours as 8am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays. Practices do not have to be open at all times during core hours or deliver all services at all times when they are open, according to BMA advice.

However, practices are required to provide services at times 'at times that are appropriate to meet the needs of patients' and to ensure that 'arrangements are in place for patients to access services throughout core hours in case of emergency'.

The agenda for the conference, which takes place in York on 10 and 11 May, also includes debates on further measures to boost the GP workforce, concerns over the unresourced transfer of work from hospitals to general practice and the impact on practice workload of long waits for hospital care and blocked referrals.

The LMCs conference will also hear a warning that plans to 'nationalise' general practice, linked to health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, are not in the interests of patients or doctors - and that vertical integration of practices with hospitals 'is an existential threat to the independent contractor model and the role of the GP partner.

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