GPC surveyA major GPC survey showing a profession suffering under the weight of bureaucracy, falling resources and low morale since the imposition of the new contract will be a vital part of GPC’s negotiating strategy for the forthcoming contract talks, GP leaders have revealed.

The survey of 3,692 GPs, which is Dr Chaand Nagpaul’s first major imprint on the GPC since becoming chair in July, reveals the extent of the devastation caused by the contract imposition in April, with 82% of respondents saying they have had to reduce the number of appointments available since April, 97% reporting that bureaucracy and box-ticking had increased in the past year and 94% reporting an increase in workload.

GPC leaders confirmed that the survey findings would form an ‘important part’ of negotiations with the government over the new GP contract, according to www.pulsetoday.co.uk.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The findings echo what we´ve been saying for some time that GPs are heaving under the workload they have and that matters have been far worse since the imposition of the contract last year. Those factors need to be taken on board now and this will be an important part of negotiations. You can´t put more and more work on GPs or you risk undermining patients care as this survey shows.’

The results – which are based on responses from 10% of the total GP population - also revealed that 89% of GPs believe that more targets will not improve patient care, while 86% reported a reduction in their morale in the past year and 45% said they are less engaged with the CCGs because of increased workload.

This comes as Pulse revealed yesterday that NHS Employers will not conduct UK-wide negotiations with the GPC, and will instead only negotiate terms for English GPs, as well as QOF terms for GPs in Wales. Entirely separate deals will be negotiated for Scottish and Northern Irish GPs.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt mapped out the government´s plans for further GP contract revisions in a speech at the King´s Fund in London this week.

He said the GP contract will be rewritten by next April to ensure a ‘dramatic simplification’ in targets and incentives, with the aim of removing the ‘bureaucratic overlay’ from GPs’ work.

Additional funding will be channelled to general practice to help support GPs’ new responsibilities and will come from savings made by a reduction in unplanned admissions, he said.

The GPC has indicated a softer line towards Mr Hunt’s reforms since he vowed to tackle bureaucracy. Dr Vautrey said: ‘We´re looking forward to working with him and NHS England to address this in a serious manner and in the end, to give GPs more time with patients rather than box ticking and paperwork.’

The BMA findings follow an exclusive Pulse survey that found nearly half of GPs are jeopardising their mental health and are at a very high risk of burning out. Pulse´s survey of 1,800 GPs revealed that 43% of GPs are classified as being at a very high risk of developing burnout, with partners and those working in deprived areas particularly badly hit.

The Department of Health-commissioned national work-life survey carried out by researchers at the University of Manchester also showed this week that GPs are suffering the highest levels of stress recorded since 1998, with over half of those aged over 50 years saying they intend to quit direct patient care within five years.