GPs ready for action on pay freeze

Most GPs will boycott key DoH initiatives including Choose and Book in response to the pay freeze imposed last month, a GP survey reveals.

Sixty-five per cent will boycott  Choose and Book and the nat-ional care record system. Some 54 per cent will boycott practice-based commissioning (PBC).

In addition, 83 per cent will re-fuse any new unfunded work, and 68 per cent will ditch existing unfunded work that does not benefit patients. A total of 167 GPs took part in the survey.

The findings cast doubt on the viability of flagship elements of the National Programme for IT in England. Connecting for Health said that at least 60 per cent of patients would need to be involved in the care records system for it to work in A&E.

Cleveland LMC secretary Dr John Canning said: ‘It’s going to be interesting. This level of non-participation would make Choose and Book and the care record system a farce. But people find it hard to see their benefits.’

He warned that refusing to take part in PBC could be counter-productive: ‘Giving up PBC has risks. You are giving up the opportunity to influence.’

However, he said that GPs should not take part unless their involvement was properly resourced.

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said the findings reflected views expressed by GPs to the GPC.

‘Lower interest in dropping PBC reflects the fact that despite the difficulties, it does give opportunities to have an influence over spending.’

However, GPs in the rest of the UK were concerned that they would have less opportunity to take action over the pay freeze than in England.

GPC Scotland joint deputy chairman Dr Stuart Scott said it would be harder for practices in Scotland to drop work.

‘We don’t have the unpopular things in Scotland that exist in England,’ he said. ‘Our DESs are clinically relevant rather than strange IT things no one wants.’

GP clinical lead for Connect-ing for Health Dr Gillian Braunold said GPs would still use Choose and Book and take part in the care record system if they were convinced of the benefits it has for patients.

But she said non-participation could undermine the case for adequate funding for GP participation in IT initiatives.

‘My biggest worry is that if people don’t take part in pilots  we won’t be able to show what the workload is, and we won’t be able to get the financial package right for future negotiations.

‘If no one takes part, the GPC will go into negotiations in future and the DoH may say: ‘Tough, no new money.’

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