Sajid Javid caves into GP pressure

Sajid Javid DELAYS plans to make GPs reveal how much they’re earning amid face-to-face appointment chaos ‘because they’re too busy’

  • Health Secretary has agreed to postpone the proposals, BMA chair says
  • Officials first went through with plans to bring GP pay transparency up to date
  • BMA threatened action after GPs were asked to see more patients in person

Sajid Javid has delayed plans for GPs to declare if they earn more than £150,000 a year, it emerged today. 

The Health Secretary agreed to postpone the proposals, which left doctors furious because they felt ‘singled out’. 

Officials wanted to ensure GP pay transparency was ‘in line’ with other civil servants, including senior NHS managers. 

The Government’s delay was revealed by Dr Richard Vautrey, the outgoing chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee. 

He led the union’s rebellion against No10’s orders to force GPs to see more patients in person, following a huge row over a lack of face-to-face appointments.

The panel has already balloted its members on whether they want to take industrial action over the proposals, which would have seen the worst-performing practices ‘named and shamed’.

As well as refusing to sign off Covid vaccine exemptions, the action could also see doctors refuse their contractual requirement to declare the highest earners which technically came into force this week. 

It was also revealed today that Dr Vautrey’s replacement will be a doctor who wants surgeries to stop offering patients ‘vital’ services. 

Dr Farah Jameel, a GP in Camden, north London, was confirmed as the next chair of the committee following a vote. She beat rival candidate Dr Chandra Kanneganti, a Tory councillor and mayor for Stoke-on-Trent.  

One doctor said anyone ‘daft enough to vote for a Conservative party member (after what they have done to us) to lead their union needs to resign’. 

The BMA slammed the Government’s proposals to get more face-to-face GP appointments last month. The graph above shows the proportion of GP appointments that were face to face since September 2019, before the pandemic began

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (left, pictured getting his booster dose) has agreed to postpone the proposals. Officials wanted to ensure GP pay transparency was ‘in line’ with other civil servants, including senior NHS managers. Dr Richard Vautrey, the current chair of the BMA, (left) is stepping down from his position

The average annual income for a GP in Britain is £100,000.

Data showed family doctors worked 6.6 sessions a week before Covid, the equivalent of just over three days. Those days often consist of 12-plus hour shifts. 

Highly-paid doctors were due to have their name and salary band revealed under the new five-year GP contract.

Dr Farah Jameel, a GP in Camden, London, has been appointed as the new chair of the BMA’s committee.

She had complained about GPs having to provide extra services before she took the role.

In an article in GPOnline in 2018 she claimed further services were ‘another example of GPs’ goodwill being exploited and taken advantage of’.

The article was attached with a strap that read: ‘You wouldn’t expect a builder to do a job on the side for free, or ask a lawyer to do some extra work without being paid for it.

‘So why should it be any different for GPs?’

Non-core services include inserting pessaries, phlebotomies and spirometries. The NHS doesn’t pay for these, meaning doctors don’t have to offer them.

But critics say doctors should offer the services regardless and today condemned Dr Jameel’s ‘lax attitude’.

Department of Health bosses said it was to ‘bring general practice in line with other public servants, including senior NHS managers’.

Welcoming the delay today, the BMA said it would give GPs ‘breathing room’ during a busy period.

‘Crucially, these changes could have caused disruption over the winter period — distracting from the immediate priorities facing practices and their patients,’ a spokesperson told Pulse Magazine.

‘We are glad that the secretary of state is delaying these plans, providing some breathing space for hard-working GPs.’

Dr Vautrey also said it was ‘good to see Sajid Javid has agreed to delay plans for GP earning declaration arrangements’ in a tweet last night.

He warned that GPs were facing ‘the most intense workload pressures’ and added that the move would have been a ‘distraction’. 

It comes after Dr Vautrey announced he would step down from his role this month in a shock resignation. 

Rumours soon began to circulate that he actually decided to jump ship after finding himself at odds with more militant members of his committee.

The BMA has already asked its 160,000 members whether they want to take industrial action but is yet to announce the result.

It was furious over Mr Javid’s £250million package for GPs to get patients more face-to-face appointments.

No10 will still go ahead with plans to publish regular data on face-to-face attendances by NHS trusts, which will effectively create a league table. 

But the BMA has described the proposals as ‘unfair, demoralising and indefensible’, saying they would trigger a wave of resignations and retirements and ‘sink the ship altogether’. 

Concerns have been raised that too few appointments are taking place face-to-face.

Dr Farah Jameel, a GP in Camden, north London, was confirmed as the next chair of the committee following a vote today (left). She beat rival candidate Dr Chandra Kanneganti (right), a Tory councillor and mayor for Stoke-on-Trent.

Official figures from last month showed four in ten appointments were still not in person, with most done over the phone or online.

But at the same time two years ago — before the pandemic — figures showed nine in ten appointments were done in person.

The Health Secretary has blamed problems accessing GPs for escalating pressures in hospitals.

Mr Javid told the Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee this month: ‘[A] significant portion of people are turning up for emergency care when they could have actually gone to their GP.

‘That is not the fault of those people at all. They have stayed away from the NHS when they were asked to, they now want to be seen and that is right.

‘But part of the reason I think people are turning up in A&E perhaps when they don’t need it is because they’re not able to get through to their primary care services in the usual way.’ 

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