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Changes to the GP contract threaten general practice in the UK

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 31 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7343
  1. Laurence Buckman, chairman general practitioners committee
  1. 1BMA, London WC1H 9JP, UK
  1. l.buckman{at}

Because of failure to grasp the funding and capacity problems facing the NHS

Last week, the UK government disregarded five months of painstaking negotiations between the BMA and NHS employers to announce a series of wide ranging changes to the general practitioner contract that could potentially damage general practice in the United Kingdom. Some of the changes had never been mentioned before. Extensive and detailed discussions, which had almost led to agreement on a potential package of changes to the GP contract that recognised the need to do as much as possible for patients despite financially austere times, were ignored. The government had been fully informed about negotiations all along, so what happened last week was surprising and distressing.

There is considerable anger among GPs and within the BMA at how this decision was promulgated. Many other sectors of the medical profession are equally taken aback by the government’s autocratic approach. Furthermore, many of the new indicators that the government has decided to implement are simply unworkable.

GPs are under substantial pressure both financially and as a result of high workload. GP practice incomes have been frozen for several years, …

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