GPs' concerns over NHS reforms still running high

A third of family doctors say shake up will destroy health service

GPs continue to harbour a multitude of concerns over the NHS reforms, but anxieties have lessened slightly over the past six months, according to the latest Health of the Nation report published by Aviva.

The report states that following the Government’s listening exercise on the reforms, 32% of GPs now say they have no confidence in the plans, compared to 51% in the previous survey six months ago.

But although the report says GP opinion has shifted significantly in the past year, it argues that there is still an overall lack of confidence in the proposals, with 35% of GPs still feeling that the reforms will destroy the NHS.

Older GPs tend to have more confidence in the revised plans for clinical commissioning groups. Whereas nearly half of GPs aged over 55 years had some confidence in the plans, only one in five GPs under the age of 55 said they have confidence in the plans.

The survey also reveals concerns over whether GPs will be ready to implement the changes to the commissioning landscape, with 26% saying that they don’t feel equipped to deliver clinical commissioning and the same number thinking the reforms cannot work unless GPs are given sufficient training to adapt.

Moreover, GPs continue to harbour fears that their working life will change for the worse following the reforms, a stance that has not changed since the previous report.

Some 27% of those asked said that their workload will increase as a result of the changes, while 23% think that their stress levels will go up.

Only 6% of GPs say the reforms will give them more opportunities to get the best service for patients, and just 4% say that they’ll be able to offer patients better access to care. This runs counter to the Government’s rationale for NHS reform, which is to shift decision-making as close as possible to individual patients.

In addition, the report reveals that GPs believe progress has continued to be made in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, cancer and strokes. However, GPs regard services for stress and anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction, depression, mental health issues and obesity as poor, despite the fact GPs say such conditions are on the increase.

With the NHS having to make £20bn worth of efficiency savings by 2015, there are concerns about the future of some services. GPs feel that the NHS may not be able to continue to provide services for ME and chronic fatigue, infertility and food allergies.

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