A letter sent to the GPC from NHS Employers yesterday made the terms of the new extended hours directed enhanced service (DES) more flexible, said GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman.
This ‘shift in language' from the government led the GPC to conclude that the government's offer is less damaging to general practice than the imposition during an eight-hour debate yesterday on the issue.
Although not an endorsement or an acceptance of the offer, Dr Buckman said the GPC was able for the first time to say which deal it preferred.
‘There wasn't much between the offer and the imposition before. There has been sufficient movement by the government to say, "this will do you less damage".'
The average practice still stands to lose around £18,000 unless they participate in the voluntary extended hours DES.
‘Under the offer it is now easier to earn it back. Under option B it will be very challenging,' said Dr Buckman.
GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage described the letter as the ‘first signs of a thaw' in the contract talks. Letters asking GPs how they would like to vote will go out in mid February.
The GPC resolution was: ‘The GPC has come to the conclusion that option A is less damaging for general practice, because the alternative option will harm the underlying fabric of NHS general practice and patient care more quickly and more lastingly.'
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