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Abusing GPs' goodwill undermines the fabric of the NHS

If you Google 'NHS works on goodwill of doctors', it generates more than 5,350,000 results. Now, I have not read them all, but I think it is safe to say that it has general acceptance.

I have just returned from a good GP practice, earning profits just below the average. They are facing a catastrophic loss of MPIG/correction factor - £40,000 per partner over seven years. We are told a new formula for the global sum is forthcoming, but there is no sign yet and the partners are preparing for a reduction in drawings.

They are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds from the NHS for services they have provided, but for which they have not been paid. They are now considering litigation. A consequence of these unpaid services is that they cannot draw out the profits they have made.

Four partners have current account balances of more than £60,000 that are needed to keep the practice solvent. Two partners who have recently joined the practice are having to pay in sums far greater than expected to match the financial commitment of the existing partners.

Goodwill, we accountants learn, can also be negative. The consequences of abusing GPs, not paying them properly, blaming them for the problems in A&E, suggesting a doctor in casualty knows the patient better than their GP is far greater than the political spin it temporarily generates. It undermines the fabric that allows the NHS to function. Could anyone have imagined GP practices looking for partners would struggle to find them?

The goodwill that has existed is fragile and valuable and our ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ ministers should respect it. It should last longer than their brief term in office.

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