GP contract talks could be settled 'within weeks'

Negotiations on changes to the GP contract for 2014/15 could be close to completion 'in the next few weeks', according to GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey.

Dr Richard Vautrey: contract deal is close

Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care's Best Practice event in Birmingham on Wednesday, Dr Vautrey said: 'It's expected that there will be some degree of conclusion in the next few weeks, so we can prepare for any change that might happen in April.

'We intend to conclude things as soon as possible. Our experience last year however was that we went right up to the wire. We don't want to be in that situation again.'

His comments came after health minister Lord Howe told the conference that negotiations on the contract were at a 'constructive' stage.

Lord Howe said he was hopeful both the GPC and the government were 'aiming for the same endpoints'.

Changes to the GP contract for 2014/15 are expected to hand GPs 24-hour responsibility for the care of frail elderly patients, and could involve changes to out-of-hours reponsibility and access requirements.

A reduction in QOF targets is also expected, with both the GPC and the DH keen to cut bureaucracy and box-ticking. A recent review by NICE considered how the QOF could be shrunk and which indicators could be retained, a move that gives the clearest indication yet that a smaller framework is likely for 2014/15.

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