GPs warn of workforce crisis if GMS contract changes imposed

GPs are urging the government to listen to the GPC during the consultation launched today, warning GMS contract change imposition would leave it facing a workforce crisis.

Dr Helena McKeown: 'We are working 13 or 14-hour days. People are tired and demoralised'
Dr Helena McKeown: 'We are working 13 or 14-hour days. People are tired and demoralised'

The DH launched a 12-week consultation today on its proposals for the GP contract, which include GPs having to work harder to retain current pay.

It is also proposing that any new funding for practices in 2013/14 will be 'targeted towards those with less current funding per patient'.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that he and his negotiating team were ‘open to real dialogue with the government’ on the proposals.

BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand said if the proposals went through the government would face a ‘recruitment and workforce crisis’ which would compromise patient care.

‘If you reduce money to primary care then GPs will have to cut costs somehow,’ he said. ‘Everyday the workload is rising and so are expectations.

‘The consequences of these GP contract changes will be a recruitment and workforce crisis and compromise in access for patients.

‘The GPC will want to sit down with the government. It will want to convey that this policy will end in tears for everybody.’

When asked about the possibility of industrial action, he said: ‘The next step is that we will want to go back to the table. The GPC is in a constructive mode. It doesn’t want another workforce crisis to loom.’

GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said: ‘I hope that the government will listen. I have faith in the negotiators. [Whether the government will listen] is uncertain at this moment. We are working 13 or 14-hour days. People are tired and demoralised. I am really concerned about my GP colleagues. This will be the last straw and they will retire early and pack up. To have some sort of unplanned mass walkout would be very sad.’

When asked if the proposals would lead to industrial action, Dr McKeown said: ‘I will leave it to the negotiators to get on with the job.’

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter warned that industrial action was one of the options the GPC could take if the government continued to act in a ‘cavalier manner’ over contract changes, in an interview with GP last month.

The GPC meets on 20 December. The UK BMA Council would have to sanction industrial action. The next council meeting is due to take place on 23 January.

* How the media is reporting the 2013/14 GMS contract changes

* DH plans to scrap MPIG could force 5% of practices out of business

* UK reaction to GMS contract change for England

* QOF thresholds to raise to 100% in contract changes

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