Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are interested to see that GP’s leaders have spoken in defence of GPs’ productivity after a report questioned whether their new contract has resulted in increased efficiency.
As a specialist healthcare PR and communications agency, PRimage view is that the GP contract has caused so many rows and ongoing controversy – just look at the heated dispute and current stand-off between the government and GP’s leaders over the government’s proposals to extend GP’s hours and open surgeries at evenings and weekends. We believe that the rows and criticisms are largely of the government’s own making, as it allowed GPs to opt out of providing evening and weekend surgeries when it developed and implemented the new GP contract back in 2004.
The National Audit Office has said the new contract for general practice has cost the Department of Health £1.76 billion more than it originally budgeted for. In the first two years of the contract, productivity has dropped by an average of 2.5 per cent per year. While the number of consultations with patients has increased, the NAO says these are not in proportion with the increase in costs. GPs are now working seven hours less per week and the annual average pay of a GP partner is £113,614, an increase of 58 per cent since 2002-03. GP partners have also taken more profit from the practice as pay.
Aside from these critical comments, PRimage note that there were some positive findings from the report: nurses spending more time on practice work, leaving GPs to spend more time with more complex cases. GPs also now spend more time with each patient, an average of around 12 minutes compared to eight minutes in 2002-03.
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