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RCGP calls for less arduous regulation and more trust in the profession post-COVID

A permanent reduction in red tape and bureaucracy to give GPs the time they need to manage the aftermath of COVID-19 at a community level is one of the calls in a new Royal College of GPs’ report, published today, looking at how the pandemic will shape the future of general practice.

The report makes the case that throughout the pandemic, general practice has shown it functions well with fewer bureaucratic processes, such as contractual and regulatory compliance activities. While it recognises the need for regulation and other processes to ensure patient safety and quality of care, the College says there also needs to be a shift to a ‘higher trust’ model that gives GPs more time to deliver patient care.

The College is calling for the governments in each nation to demonstrate trust in the profession and develop action plans to ensure GPs’ time is spent on frontline patient care, not ticking boxes, as clinical workload post-COVID is expected to increase.

Specifically, the College has asked for:

  • the introduction of new approaches to intelligence-led monitoring of the quality and safety of care, minimising the administrative requirements on practices particularly in countries which have low-trust systems of assurance
  • contractual requirements, such as QOF and QAIF, to focus on high-trust approaches to assuring or improving quality with low administrative requirements
  • the implementation of a new yearly appraisal system across the UK, minimising pre-appraisal documentation and the administrative burden on GPs and focussed on wellbeing, reflective practice and development
  • the rapid review of requirements for returning GPs to reduce the administrative requirements for getting GPs back into the workforce, including retaining them on Medical Performers Lists for longer, with greater flexibility, underpinned by further investment to support and incentivise their return.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “While we recognise that regulation has a place in general practice, the fact is that 95% of GP practices are rated good or outstanding. Making GPs and our teams go through box-ticking exercises has little patient benefit and isn’t the best use of our time, especially as we deal with the expected surge in clinical workload in the aftermath of COVID-19.

“We are asking the governments in all four nations to make changes to ensure we can spend more time with patients. 

“It’s imperative we learn from the pandemic and strive to create a better functioning ‘normal’ for general practice, rather than simply returning to the way things used to be. We need Governments to trust GPs to do our job well, and safely, and if they do, the ultimate beneficiaries will be our patients.”


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