Contracts still need overhaul, BMA warns Government

Many GPs
are considering quitting the profession because of concerns about their
workloads and a lack of training opportunities, despite a £22m cash injection
from the Government yesterday.

The
Britsh Medical Association welcomed the cash boost to increase the number of
new GPs and training opportunities, but warned that unless satisfactory new
contracts are in place by April next year, many practitioners would quit the
service.

The
announcement by Health Minister John Hutton outlined proposals which will see
an extra £13m made available to ensure each newly qualified GP receives up to
20 days’ higher education training in their first year after qualification.

There
will also be an additional £9m to help fund more GP registrar training.

 Dr George Rae, North-East BMA chairman,
welcomed the extra funding but said GPs wanted to see a restriction in patient
list sizes to allow more time for cousultations and protected time for
qualified GPs to retrain and keep up to date with medical developments.

Other
demands include a review of the hours worked by GPs and of their conditions of
salary and the incentives for encouraging GPs to stay on until the maximum
retirement age.

Hutton
said, "GPs have frequently drawn attention to the fact that, fresh from
training, they are often expected to work independently and they sometimes feel
ill-prepared for the sudden increased responsibility of working in the
community.

"This
additional funding will help tackle this and help us increase the number of GP
trainers and training practices."

Nearly
90 per cent of GPs would consider quitting the NHS if the 50-year-old contract
was not significantly changed, a British Medical Association ballot revealed in
May.

By
Ben Willmott

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