Family doctors feel increasingly fed up, overworked, tied up in red tape and worried that “dubious” Government targets are stopping them treating needier patients, a survey has found.
A poll by the British Medical Association (BMA), completed by 3,629 GPs working in England – around 10 per cent of the total – showed 86 per cent had suffered a drop in morale over the past year.
More than 95% complained of an increase in “bureaucracy and box ticking” because of changes to GPs’ contracts which were the subject of a dispute between the Government and the BMA union. They imposed higher targets for monitoring of certain conditions under the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) scheme that ties funding for GP practices to work in specific areas such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
According to the Yorkshire Post, ministers said the reforms would benefit patients with long-term conditions and dementia but health professionals said they were not based on clinical need and forced doctors to spend time testing perfectly healthy individuals.
More than four in five GPs said the increased demand for appointments related to QOF meant other patients were being squeezed out.
The survey also found a widespread expectation that the changes, which came into force in April, would see funding reduced over the next year – with 90 per cent predicting a drop in resources.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said: “The results of this survey demonstrate that an increase in bureaucracy, box ticking and administration has damaged GP services and patient care, mirroring a Government-funded report into GP’s working lives that made similar findings.”