GPs not getting OH services

One in five primary care trusts in England is not providing sufficient
occupational health services for GPs and their staff, the British Medical
Association (BMA) has warned.

Doctors had been given assurance that, as part of the NHS Plan, free OH
services would be introduced from April 2001.

But the study of GP local medical committees showed that of 304 primary care
trusts in England, at least 37 did not offer a free OH service to their GPs and
their staff. A further 29 only provided a patchy service.

The BMA has called for the money that has been made available for OH schemes
under the NHS Plan to be ‘ring-fenced’ so it can be spent in the right areas.

It also urged the Department of Health (DoH) to consider providing extra
money to help tackle GP ill health and stress levels.

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee,
said the findings were "hugely disappointing".

"Last year, the Department of Health wrote to all chief executives of
English primary care organisations to remind them that funding should be made
available to meet the occupational health needs of GPs and their staff by 31
December 2002.

"A huge number of GPs and their staff still do not have access to even
basic OH services. It seems likely that the money allocated to provide these
services has been spent elsewhere," he explained.

Susan Robson, chairwoman of the BMA’s Occupational Health Committee, added:
"In the light of these results, we hope we can work with the DoH to
improve the provision of OH services so that GPs and their staff can make the
best possible contribution to improving patient care."

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