Responding to the publication of the Hewitt Review into integrated care systems, Dr Kieran Sharrock, BMA England GP committee acting chair, said:
“At a time of unprecedented pressures and workload, and when we face a second imposed contract in as many years, GPs will be looking closely at this wide-ranging report and what it means for our practices and the communities we serve.
“We welcome some of the principles in the Review, which are not far removed from what we at the BMA have been saying for some time – a move away from top-down directives and targets, and trusting GPs and their teams to provide care in a way that benefits their patients, based on their in-depth knowledge of local needs. We also agree with increased focus on prevention and support for primary care.
“Even before the recent imposition, GPC England has been clear that the contract needs a complete overhaul, so that what comes next properly supports practices to look after patients in a way that recognises changing demographics, increased demand, plummeting workforce numbers and rising costs.
“We know practices are struggling to meet patients’ needs and the emphasis now must be on supporting practices, rather than penalising them. There is worryingly little detail within the Hewitt Review about how success is defined and by whom. A central fund to buy out ‘failing’ partnerships may be seen as appealing for those left with no other way out, but it’s not clear who decides when a practice is failing, and what powers they might have. Rather than improving community-based, holistic care, we’d worry that this would open the door to private companies strong-arming smaller practices into selling - destroying the continuity of care that they have built over many years.
“The BMA, GPs, and LMCs must be central to any and all discussions about the future of general practice and the GP contract, not just ‘consulted’. Family doctors are central to the health and wellbeing of communities, and it would be a betrayal to patients not to use their invaluable insight to shape services.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.