Reforms ‘hit GPs’ time with patients’

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GPs are having to pull out of their new commissioning duties because of massive workloads, reports suggest.

Some family doctors are being forced to cut back on their work with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – which are in charge of £65bn of the NHS’s annual budget – because of time constraints.

The bodies, which are led by GPs and other clinicians, were introduced as part of the Government’s controversial NHS reforms. The 211 CCGs replaced primary care trusts as the bodies to commission and pay for treatment for patients across England.

But doctors leaders warned that the time GPs are having to spend attending meetings is cutting into the time spent with patients.

British Medical Association deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand told The Guardian: “About a quarter of GPs in England are involved in some way with their CCG, whether as the chair or just as someone who sits on one of their committees, and thus has a lot of meetings to go to.

“That extra work related to commissioning services is cutting into the time they can spend with patients, just at the time that demand for GP services has been going up, so some GPs now have too much to do.

“Some have already pulled out of active CCG work – attending meetings – because they can’t cope with the dual workload of the managerial stuff around commissioning and looking after patients.”

He added: “While that’s not happening on a large scale at the moment, it could become a wholesale pulling out if Jeremy Hunt tries to force GPs to resume responsibility for providing out of hours care.”

On Thursday the Health Secretary said GPs should be ultimately responsible for out of hours care – even if they don’t personally provide it.

Mr Hunt said he believed that the “buck should stop” with GPs with regards to care for patients at evenings and weekends.

While family doctors shouldn’t have to personally deliver such care for their patients, they should have to “sign off” to confirm that they are pleased with the service that is providing care, he said.

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