GPs ‘less in control’ after NHS reforms

Almost two-thirds of doctors feel less “empowered” than they did before the Government’s controversial health reforms.

Ministers said the Health and Social Care Act would put doctors in the driving seat but only two months after its implementation, 65 per cent of doctors say they feel less empowered at work than they did a year ago.

Indeed many medics questioned by the British Medical Association (BMA) felt “hindered” when they wanted to make improvements to patient services.

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Two-thirds said they wanted to make changes or improvements in the last year but were unable to, with red tape and lack of capacity listed as the top barriers for making enhancements.

The figures, released at the start of the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Edinburgh, also found that of the 1,000 doctors surveyed many were feeling the strains of the job, with 81 per cent describing pressure at work as ‘high’. Out of all of those surveyed, GPs reported the highest level of pressure, the poll found.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the BMA, said: “Despite the huge and relentless pressures they face, many doctors remain enthusiastic and motivated about working in the NHS, and this is very heartening, but it is a grave cause for concern that those who wanted to make improvements to patient services feel there are barriers prohibiting that.

“It is particularly worrying that the pressures so many doctors are experiencing on a daily basis appear to be getting worse.

“The Government wants to give doctors more control so they can work effectively for their patients, yet they often find this impossible in the face of an unprecedented funding squeeze, inadequate staffing levels and rising patient demand.”

He adds: “If the NHS is to survive another 65 years there must be a clear recognition that we are reaching boiling point with patient demand. There must also be a greater focus on integrating health and social care, rather than the continuing obsession of having a competitive market in health.”