Exclusive: GMS practices could move to two-year contracts

Annual renegotiation of GMS contracts could be scrapped in favour of a two-year process under plans being considered by NHS England.

NHS England confirmed to GPonline that it was ‘taking views’ on the proposals, but that no decisions had yet been made.

GP leaders said they were unaware of any such plans. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said there had been ‘no suggestion of GMS practices having a two-year contract’.

There have been multi-year GMS deals in the previous years, such as the three-year 2004 contract. GPs have previously called for less frequent changes to the QOFand other GMS measures, warning that rapid changes to complex targets left practices drowning in bureaucracy.

Dr Vautrey said he was not sure whether a move to a two-year contract would ‘make a great deal of difference’. He confirmed that BMA negotiators had not been consulted. 'It is certainly nothing that is being talked about or mentioned at all.'

However, Dr Vautrey added that reducing annual contract changes and providing practices with greater contractual stability was something the GPC had called for in its Urgent Prescription for General Practice. 'However we also need to make the changes that GPs want to see and that's what we'll be trying to do this year as we engage with NHS England and NHS Employers this year,' he added.

GMS contract

An NHS England spokesman confirmed to GPonline that plans to move all currently annually negotiated contracts - outlined in new NHS operational planning and contracting guidance published on Thursday - to two-yearly deals could include the GMS contract.

The guidance published by NHS England and NHS Improvement said: ‘The default will be for two-year contracts in place of those currently negotiated annually.'

The guidance set out how CCGs and provider organisations should develop two-year operational plans, aligned with contracts, to deliver local sustainability and transformation plans (STPs).

The planning guidance included instructions for CCGs on implementing local elements of the GP Forward View and ordered commissioners to draw up plans to do so.

A spokesman said NHS England was ‘taking views at the moment’ on whether GMS contracts would be included in the plans to move to two-year deals, but he added that ‘no decisions have yet been made’.

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