GPC expected to vote on revised GP contract package

GP leaders could be set to vote on a revised set of changes to the GP contract for April 2020, as doubts over the future of primary care networks (PCNs) continue.

BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)
BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

Senior doctors on the BMA's GP committee have said they expect to be presented with a reworked package of contract proposals at a meeting on Thursday.

The meeting comes just three weeks after the GPC overwhelmingly rejected contract proposals put forward by NHS England last month.

A total of 80% of GPC members are understood to have voted against the contract offer put to them on 16 January - at a meeting that also voted for a special conference of LMCs to ratify contract changes for the coming year.

GP contract

Any new contract package presented to GP leaders will include a revised version of controversial draft network DES specifications. Following a three-week public consultation on the plans - which sparked widespread anger among GPs - NHS England has said it will 'significantly rework' the proposals.

The BMA has not confirmed whether a fresh contract package will be presented to the GPC - but if a vote goes ahead a date could then be set for what would be just the third special conference of LMCs this millennium.

Beyond the network DES proposals, details of contract changes for the year ahead remain confidential. But changes expected from April 2020 under the five-year agreement include all practices providing online consultations, changes to the QOF around heart failure, asthma and COPD - and a 2.3% uplift to core pay.

GPC member Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer told GPonline: 'The information that will be discussed at GPC England will remain confidential. What I would say is that last year's [five-year GP contract] agreement was a leap of faith for the GPC and LMCs too. We learned the lessons of agreeing to sweeping commissioning changes to the contract with the devil, as ever, being in the detail.'

Special LMCs conference

She added: 'I suspect the GPC will want to allow time for the essential details to be worked up, specifications to be drafted and costings to be modelled to give the profession a thorough understanding of what they would be signing up to - or not - at the special conference GPC voted for three weeks ago.'

The Cambridgeshire LMC GP added that LMC members and PCN clinical directors in the area had been clear in 'giving me a mandate to argue for increased investment in core' practice funding, warning that 'every pound invested in a DES is a pound less for long-term practice safety and sustainability.'

The five-year GP contract deal is worth £2.8bn - but £1.8bn of this will come in the form of investment in PCNs. Accountants warned that based on the initial draft of network DES specifications not only would practices not benefit from this investment in PCNs through support with workload pressure - but the deal would strip £400m from core funding.

The consultation on draft network DES plans brought more than 4,000 responses, NHS England has said. A summary of the consultation findings said that 'several clear and consistent messages' came through, including on workforce implications and 'the investment general practice was being asked to make in new workforce roles'.

Respondents raised concerns over the impact of metrics included in the specifications and called for more qualitative and outcome-based measures.

Calls for clarification around how PCNs will be supported by CCGs and integrated care systems also featured heavily.

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