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Government accused of making a “hash” of GP contracts

15 November 2007

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A Conservative MP has accused the Government of making a “complete hash” of renegotiating GP contracts.

Speaking in the House of Commons, David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) claimed that the contracts simply gave doctors extra money for doing the same job.

And he alleged that the move has attracted many doctors from overseas, with the result that “home trained doctors are now unemployed by their thousands”.

However, his claims were dismissed by Health Secretary Alan Johnson, who said the new contracts had reversed a trend whereby medical graduates did not want to be GPs.

But he did acknowledge that there are still issues which need to be tackled.

He said: “We have 10,000 international medical graduates who have been trained as undergraduates abroad who are seeking positions in postgraduate training in this country.

“That is an issue that we are seeking to resolve.”

He later told MPs: “We will not have anybody unemployed when our employment guarantee ends on December 31.

“There are 3,600 UK undergraduates who have not accepted a training post for 2007. There’s around 1,650 posts still to be filled.

“They will be competing with international medical graduates as well. But the sum total of all those people is we expect at the most 100 people to be unemployed because the vast majority of these applicants are already working in the NHS and already have a job in the NHS.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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“You get what you pay for if you produce such tightly measured contracts and create a market place. The biggest folly was to underestimate the intelligence of GPs and their ability to rise to the challenge of targets. The thorn of ‘out of hours’ services was the only area with which the government could beat GPs and they have done their best to do so, despite GPs no longer having responsibility for payment or provision of that service” – Name and address supplied

“I would like them to spend a week in a practice and see how they think the doctors and staff are being overpaid. The contracts promote good clinical practice and the only mistake the government have made is to underestimate what the majority of practices where already doing” – Name and address supplied

“Not quite relevant, but what’s the great shock that some medical graduates or newly qualified can’t get the job they want in the geographical area they want. That happens to all workers and medical graduates should be no different from anyone else. I had to move hundreds of miles and didn’t whinge. I viewed it as an interesting experience while I waited for the job I wanted to become available and fortunately, I got it” – Name and address supplied

“Yes I agree with the Tories. The GPs do less work in practice than anyone but earn by far the most. They are also the least committed to the good of the patients and the practice and are the least likely to do extra hours or work” – Name and address supplied