Practice managers and GPs in England have serious concerns about the additional responsibilities they will have to take on under new plans for NHS funding outlined yesterday (13 July 2010) by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, according to an online survey of 170 GP practices.
More than three quarters of GPs and practice managers say they are worried about their accountability for decisions they will now have to make with regards to funding allocation, the research, conducted by IRIS Software, found.
The survey results suggest that almost two thirds (64%) of GP practices do not have the necessary skills to manage the additional workload that will result from the planned changes, and almost three quarters (73%)say they will need to hire additional staff in order to fulfill their new responsibilities.
The new measures have led to a feeling among GPs and practice managers that politicians do not fully understand their plight, with almost two thirds (64%) claiming that the coalition government does not understand the pressures currently faced by GPs.
However, despite these concerns about their added workload and accountability, most of the survey respondents believe that the new proposals are sensible.
More than half (60%) of GPs and practice managers believe that they should take responsibility for NHS healthcare funding, and a huge majority (83%) believe they will be able to respond more quickly to patient needs than PCTs.
Oliver Shaw, Managing Director of IRIS GP Solutions, said: "It's clear there is a great deal of unease about what these new responsibilities will mean in terms of additional skills and workload and, ultimately, accountability.
"It's important therefore that the government and other organisations work closely with GP practices to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver the benefits that this overhaul of the NHS will hopefully provide, both in terms of reduced costs and improved patient care."
Do you think GP practices have the necessary skills to manage the additional responsibilities they now face? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"This is a return to old fundholding days – you eliminate PCTs and save money in that area – then hand the money to surgeries who then have to employ costly individual financial management in each practice which costs money – you get a lottery of services available in different practices, not consistent treatment. I have been a practice manager since 1983 and consider this to be a backward step – much more straightforward would have been to eliminate some layers of bureaucracy at PCT level, less form-filling for practice managers and more time devoted to real patient care" – Lorraine Pugh, Gloucestershire
"Many GP practices have latent knowledge of fundholding, which could be utilised. It is only the monetary value which puts people off, commissioning is really only referring patients appropriately for quality care" – Mike Greenbank, Norfolk
"No, I don't - they can't cope with what they have at the moment never mind an increase in their workload. I can't even get mine to come and see me at home and I am more or less bedbound. He used to work morning and evening, now he only does mornings and if i need an appointment i have to wait a week to see him, that is just not good enough, so how on earth can they cope with these changes?" – Evrol Brown, West Midlands