BMA head says forcing GPs to do more face-to-face appointments is 'harassment' and 'discrimination'

·2 min read
A British doctor seen taking a patient's blood pressure
A British doctor seen taking a patient's blood pressure

Creating “league tables” to force GPs to provide more face-to-face appointments is “harassment, discrimination, [and] victimisation,” the BMA Council Chair said.

A new £250 million support package for general practice was announced by the Government this week, including plans to publish league tables showing how many in-person consultations GPs held.

The worst-performing practices will be “named and shamed” and denied access to the new fund.

The Health Secretary faced a fierce backlash to his plans from family doctors, who claimed he was “out of touch” with the crisis.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the British Medical Association’s council chair, said on Sunday that if practices were employees the treatment would amount to “harassment, discrimination, victimisation".

Chaand Nagpaul, pictured in 2018, also said introducing league tables will increase abuse - Heathcliff O'Malley
Chaand Nagpaul, pictured in 2018, also said introducing league tables will increase abuse - Heathcliff O'Malley

Writing on Twitter, Dr Nagpaul said: "No other part of [the] NHS is subject to access league tables blaming them for workforce shortages, publicly shaming with patient feedback texts, [and] CQC hit squads blaming them for failing.

“If general practice was an employee, it would claim harassment, discrimination, victimisation.”

A “zero tolerance” campaign to tackle abuse and harassment of GPs will also form part of the plan.

But Dr Nagpaul claimed the league tables will increase abuse.

“So publicly blame 20 per cent practices for poor access when they can't fill GP vacancies, publish real-time feedback texts [and] bring in CQC to name/shame in front of their patients. This will *increase* abuse [and] risk safety of GPs/staff,” he said.

Facing daily abuse from patients

GPs and practice staff have said they face “daily” abuse from patients over access to in-person appointments.

Dr Prakash Kachhala, 37, said a receptionist at his surgery in Nottinghamshire was in tears last week after facing abuse from a patient on the phone.

“It’s daily and relentless,” Dr Kachhala, who works at Torkard Hill Medical Centre in Hucknall, said.

“Patients (are) frustrated, understandably about waits and Covid precautions, but blame the hardworking staff that are trying to hold up a system in crisis.

“(I’m) exhausted, numb, heartbroken, angry, tired.”

The Royal College of GPs has said the plan is not enough to tackle the crisis and that at least 6,000 full-time doctors are needed to tackle the workforce issues.

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