General practitioner Northern Ireland Scotland England Wales

Last updated:

BMA Q and A: improving GPs' contracts

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul answers your questions

Annual GP contract negotiations will be starting soon. What is the BMA GPs committee approach for the 2015/16 contract?

Dr Chaand Nagpaul is Chairman of the General Practitioners CommitteeThis year’s negotiations will take place in a politicised pre-election environment, so the challenges will be to mitigate electioneering motives, ensure changes are in the interests of patients, and recognise capacity constraints in general practice.

While the negotiations are confidential and based upon proposals by the government, we want to build upon the changes made this year and continue to reduce bureaucracy. 

We will argue for more core resources to recognise the significant increase in workload.

Will the contract negotiations address the pressures facing general practice?

Unfortunately, short-term changes to the GP contract will be overshadowed by wider pressures on GPs, as a result of chronic underfunding of general practice. 

There is an emerging workforce crisis, due to increasing numbers of GPs intending to retire early, practices being unable to fill GP vacancies and, worryingly, a 15 per cent fall in younger doctors choosing general practice as a career.

The recent GPC premises survey also highlighted a lack of space to provide basic care in four out of 10 practices. 

We are calling on the government to commit to sustained investment to expand capacity and infrastructure in general practice, ensure a manageable workload that is fair to patients, improve recruitment and retention, and attract younger doctors to general practice — these underpin the Your GP cares campaign. 

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) plans to rate GP practices as part of its inspection regime. What is the GPC’s position?

We believe that any simplistic rating of practices fails to recognise the range of quality parameters that define a practice, and could also mislead patients. 

It will demotivate those providing excellent care within a practice with a low rating, or conceal pockets of poor performance in a practice with a high rating.

CQC inspections should instead acknowledge the spectrum of care provided by practices.

There should be a supportive, facilitative and targeted approach to improve any shortcomings. This, not a crude ranking, will benefit patients.

Do you think GPs should be ‘named and shamed’ for cancer detection rates?

As a nation, we should strive for the best possible outcomes for cancer. 

However, this should not be linked to GP behaviour due to the multiple factors involved. 

There should be a whole-system approach focused on prevention by reducing the risk factors, maximising cancer screening rates, and public education so that patients present early; many who are diagnosed in emergency departments have often not seen a GP at all. 

 Find out more about Your GP cares

The story so far