LMCs have 'no faith' that PCNs can reduce soaring practice workload

LMC leaders have 'no faith' that primary care networks (PCNs) will reduce GP workload or tackle soaring workload in primary care.

Doctors' leaders backed a motion at the 2019 England LMCs conference in London warning that they would not reduce GP workload, would not address the workforce crisis and had not seen 'any evidence that they will assist practices in supporting increasing numbers of patients with increasingly complex health needs'.

The vote suggests that almost five months after PCNs went live across England - with 99% of GP practices now members of one of the organisations - senior GPs remain unconvinced about the impact they will have.

Hillingdon GP Dr Sujata Chadha told the conference that she believed the GP contract and the network DES had been 'negotiated in good faith' by the BMA's GP committee - but that PCNs had become a 'dumping ground' for additional work.

Financial risk

Dr Chadha warned: 'We are facing increased financial risk, more unresourced work and this ultimately threatens our sustainability.'

Dr Simeon Rackham, from Derbyshire LMC, warned that the 'entire process of developing PCNs' had been 'poorly supported and not thought through' - and said their rollout had removed 'countless clinicians from frontline care'.

Kent GP Dr Zishan Syed warned that PCNs were a 'Trojan Horse' for herding GP practices into 'bite-sized chunks' for private providers to take over.

Dorset GP Dr David Haines, however, warned that general practice needed to make the best of PCNs as they were, warning that 'if we take a negative view we are dead in the water'.

Primary care networks

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey also warned that PCNs needed more time in many areas to have an impact on workload - but said in some areas pharmacists and physios hired to support GPs had made a huge difference.

Despite strong votes expressing concern over PCNs' ability to limit GP workload, a part of the motion warning that PCNs were 'building blocks towards integrated care systems which will be to the detriment of local personal patient care' was narrowly rejected.

LMC representatives also rejected a call for the GPC to negotiate an alternative.

GPonline reported earlier this year that two thirds of GP partners were not convinced that PCNs would help to reduce workload.

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