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Lack of time hinders GP collaboration

GPs say workload pressures and lack of time are preventing them from exploring collaborative ways of working, a BMA survey reveals.

richard vautrey

The BMA GPs committee asked GPs for their views about different practices coming together to pool resources and plan primary care services. The survey results come a week after the GPC launched its Your GP cares campaign highlighting the strains general practice is under from rising workload and falling resources.

Its findings include:

  • Seven out of 10 GPs in England say workload pressures are a barrier to them forming federations or networks
  • In Northern Ireland, a similar number — two-thirds of respondents — cited workload pressures as a barrier
  • Workload pressures were also a reason for two in five GPs in Scotland, and two in five in Wales, not pursuing a federation or network.


New ways of working

GPC deputy chair Richard Vautrey (pictured) said: ‘In this environment, we do need to look at new ways of working that might enable practices to get the most out of limited resources and work more effectively together. 

‘Forming federations or networks is certainly not the solution for every practice and there is no “one-size-fits-all” model, but it could offer opportunities for many practices in difficult situations. 

‘It is disappointing that the problems that are spurring the need for more collaborative working are preventing GP practices from putting in place proper solutions. As this survey shows, many GP practices simply do not have the time to explore the benefits of federations.’

England has the highest proportion of GPs already working in networks or federations with almost half of respondents working in these groupings. In Wales, a third of respondents report working in networks or federations, while, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, only one in 10 GPs do so.

Many respondents were not convinced of the benefits of forming a federation or network, and feared doing so could threaten the independence of their practice.

 Read the survey results