A report criticising the new GP contract for making it too easy to earn high salaries through performance-related pay has been described as "incredibly unhelpful" by a leading doctor.
Professor Steve Field (pictured), chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said there was far too much "GP-bashing going on" when all doctors were trying to do was work hard to improve patient care.
The contract, which was introduced in 2004, enabled GP practices to earn extra cash through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). It also allowed GPs to opt out of providing care out of hours in return for a £6,000 drop in salary.
Professor Field, 49, who works as a GP in an inner-city practice in Birmingham, said his job had changed significantly over the last decade.
Doctors are faced with an ageing population and associated complex medical issues, and take responsibility for prevention as well as treatment.
He argued that although it was not perfect, the QOF system had reaped results for patients and was starting to narrow the health inequality gap.
He said: "The great success of GPs hitting the QOF targets does not show in any way that they are too easy. It shows that GPs will rise to the challenge.
"For the first time we have been able to demonstrate that patients from more deprived and disadvantaged areas are doing better because of the QOF."
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