GP contract deal close as part of wide-ranging primary care funding plan

Agreement on the 2016/17 GP contract may be close, the NHS England chief executive has hinted, and will be just part of a 'substantial and wide-ranging' funding programme for GPs and primary care.

Simon Stevens was outlining a package of support for primary care due to be announced in February.

The NHS England chief told a board meeting the organisation was 'highly cognisant of the pressures on general practice’ and had already begun to increase funding to the service over the last two years.

But, he acknowledged, there was ‘a lot more to be done’. Mr Stevens said the NHS England was in talks with the GPC and the RCGP to agree a ‘comprehensive package of support for general practice’.

‘Obviously just a small building block of that is ensuring that the 2016/17 GP contract is reasonable to all sides. But nobody is of the view that by itself that represents the sort of support that GPs will clearly need.’

GP funding

In Mr Stevens’ accompanying report, he said: ‘Following the outcome of the spending review, we expect to be able to announce in February a substantial and wide ranging programme of funding and support for GPs and primary care. This will include measures on workforce, workload and service redesign.

He added: ‘Constructive negotiations on the 2016/17 general medical services contract are well advanced with the BMA's General Practitioners Committee (GPC), recognising that the February GP package will go much further than any one year's contract can in helping GPs with the real pressures they face.’

GPonline exclusively revealed that DH and NHS England officials were planning to announce the primary care policy package earlier this month.

The announcement is expected to include details of further investment on top of the £1bn infrastructure and transformation fund announced in 2014.

GP workforce incentives

Measures to increase the workforce, including incentives to help keep GPs in the profession and to address areas with workforce shortages, will also be revealed.

The package will also include measures to cut bureaucracy first announced by Jeremy Hunt last October, including scrapping GPs' responsibility for hospital re-referrals following missed appointments, and the creation of a unified, single stream GP payments system.

The announcement is also expected to reveal the further roll out of seven-day services to meet ministers' demands that a fifth of the population have evening and weekend access by 2017.

In December NHS England said it would increase GP funding by 4-5% a year for the next five years.

On Saturday GP leaders at a special LMCs conference will debate a proposal for mass resignation from the NHS unless the government agrees an emergency rescue package for the service.

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