General practitioners in England voted to support industrial action on the government’s scheme to boost face-to-face appointments.
Eight out of ten doctors said they would be happy not to provide data on the number of patients they see in person and declined to write vaccination exemption letters.
The poll by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that nearly nine in 10 said they would be willing to not comply with the contractual requirements of the highest paid GPs to publish their salaries.
Dr. Farah Jameel, the new head of the Bahrain Monetary Agency, said today that the results show that GPs and staff are “frustrated, struggling and desperately in need of seeing change”.
The union said it had not yet decided on its next steps and whether to go ahead with the industrial strike.
If the industrial strike continues, it will be the first among nurses since junior doctors went on strike over changes to their contracts five years ago.
The survey was conducted of nearly 2,000 GP practices in England with a £250m action package to get more personalized patient consultations with GPs. Sajid Javid’s scheme included a scheme that would “name and shame” poorly performing surgeries.
Two million additional face-to-face appointments with a GP were made in October, but it’s still a far cry from pre-pandemic levels.
The number of GP appointments with an attending physician has fallen below 50 percent for the first time this year, with staff such as nurses, pharmacy assistants, physical therapists and even acupuncturists seeing more patients overall than GPs.
The average number of sessions GPs work in a day has declined over the past decade while their wage growth has skyrocketed. In 2012 the average GP worked 7.3 sessions per week, but this has now fallen to 6.6 sessions per week, which equates to more than three working days per week. In the same period, the average GP income has increased by more than £6000. The GP’s daily work is divided into sessions. According to the NHS, a full-time GP operates 8 sessions per week, consisting of two sessions per day, generally starting at 8am and ending at 6.30pm, although these hours can vary
The health secretary’s plan, released in October, specified that practices could use the extra money to staff more places and use other health care staff to see more patients in person.
The plan requires clinicians to see people face-to-face unless there is good reason not to share practice-level data on how many patients they see for their surgeries.
Less than half of GP appointments now with a real doctor
Less than half of GP appointments are now with a real doctor, a MailOnline analysis of NHS data has revealed, the first time that number has fallen below the 50 per cent level this year.
This is even lower in some parts of the country where less than one in three patients see qualified doctors when they go to their GP, with practices in Lincolnshire, Essex and Norfolk being the worst performing.
Despite having two million more GP appointments in October than the previous month, figures show that only 47 percent were with a qualified physician, the lowest level since October last year, during the pandemic.
Nurses, pharmacy assistants, physical therapists, and even acupuncturists now receive more patients combined than medical practitioners.
The same numbers show that nearly four in 10 consultations (35.6 per cent) were still impersonal in October despite Health Minister Sajid Javid issuing a stark warning for practices to return to pre-pandemic levels, when more than 80 per cent were face-to-face. .
Lincolnshire recorded the lowest percentage of appointments with a qualified physician with only 32.6 per cent of total patient interactions with a GP.
This was followed by Northeast Essex, where he had just under one in three appointments (33.2 percent) with a doctor.
The BMA said the “chaos of plan” means doctors spend more time doing paperwork and administration, rather than seeing patients.
It launched an indicative polling for the 5,144 clinics in England that have a BMA member GP to determine if doctors are willing to take any of the four steps.
Of the 1,798 responses the union received (35 per cent response rate), 80 per cent of GPs said they would disable the data they share with NHS Digital on interactions with patients.
This includes the number of people who are interviewed face-to-face, the healthcare professionals who treat patients and the length of time between a person who books and makes an appointment.
This move will make the data unusable for NHS Digital to monitor GP appointment activity.
The BMA said the data was “inaccurate at best and does not give a true reflection of neither the total volume of appointments nor the overall workload”.
“General practitioners and their teams want support and understanding of the sheer scale, pace and pressure they are under,” said the BMA.
The latest appointment data released today by NHS Digital showed 64.4 per cent of GP appointments in October, compared to eight in 10 in the pre-pandemic period.
And 84 percent said they would be willing not to write letters to patients who need Covid vaccination exemption certificates.
Doctors anticipate that they will essentially have to write letters to social care staff, who will have to press twice to stay in their jobs, unless they are medically excused. The same rule also applies to NHS staff from April.
About 87 percent of GPs said they would be willing to refuse to comply with the contractual requirements of the highest paid GPs to publish their salaries.
The clause, which was due to come into effect this month but has now been pushed back to spring 2022, would force doctors to earn more than £150,000 a year from the NHS to disclose their earnings along with their names.
The BMA said this is “of no benefit to patients or their care” and could increase aggressiveness toward physicians, damage morale and increase their ability to hire and retain physicians.
And 58 percent said they would be willing to forego a contract – called the Enhanced Service Directed to Primary Care Network – in the next withdrawal period. The contract specifies certain services that physicians must provide to patients.
And 39 percent said they would be willing to tear up the contract before the next withdrawal period.
In her first speech as Chair of the GP in England, Dr Jamil said: “The results showed that GPs and practicing staff are frustrated, struggling and desperate to see change, it is an overwhelming expression of emotion, resentment and disappointment.
“Public practice is ready to be broken, and my word of mouth stands out, without us the NHS will fail and all the principles we all cherish will be lost, the values of justice and equality that make the NHS so respected and so beloved.”