Editorial: 2014 offers hope for general practice

GP readers will find no hint of triumphalism in our exclusive interview with GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul on pages 23 and 24.

But the successor to Dr Laurence Buckman should certainly feel some satisfaction in negotiated changes to the 2014/15 GMS contract, which include a dramatic reduction in QOF and DES targets from April, in combination with the government putting targets and payment of QOF indicators into core funding.

Who would have thought this possible, given the nature of relations between government and the profession just a year before?

GP readers were able to put their questions about the GMS contract to health minister Lord Howe in an exclusive debate on social media site Tumblr late last year.

One GP asked: 'The 2014/15 contract deal seemed much fairer for GPs than 2013/14. What changed? And what should GPs expect in 2015/16?'

You can read the questions and answers in full on our website, GPonline.com.

This new openness with the profession should go some way towards convincing our readers of the improving nature of relations between GPs and the coalition government, which can only bode well for the future.

However, also included in this issue are exclusive survey results, which find GPs are far less hopeful about 2014/15 than Dr Nagpaul's interview might indicate.

The headline finding in the survey is that the majority of GPs do not believe the contract will reduce workload in their practices.

Elsewhere, the results show that most GPs believe the contract should be identical across all four UK nations, the majority will sign up for the unplanned admissions DES and there is indecision over opening up practice boundaries as rationing increases.

The 2014/15 GMS contract should clearly fill GPs with hope, but there is still much more to achieve. One realistic GPC goal is to change the mindset of government to view general practice as the cost-effective solution to NHS pressures. That is surely a prize worth striving for.

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