GPs to demand 'immediate withdrawal' of £2.8bn five-year contract

GP leaders will debate calls for the £2.8bn five-year GMS contract deal for England to be withdrawn immediately at a BMA conference this month.

A BMA annual representative meeting (ARM) motion put forward by the London Regional Council calls for the five-year contract - hailed by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens as 'unarguably the biggest boost to primary care in more than 15 years' - to be withdrawn, and for a national ballot of GPs.

Further motions listed alongside the London Regional Council motion suggest that the 'real agenda' of the five-year deal is to drive independent GP practices to extinction by forcing them into primary care networks (PCNs).

The motion says: 'That this meeting is opposed to the five-year framework agreement and calls for its withdrawal immediately. It insists that all GPs and trainee GP BMA members must be allowed a vote on it.'

Five-year GP contract

Further submissions listed alongside it - also from London-based BMA groups - highlight concerns over the motives behind changes set out in the five-year contract deal. The motions express astonishment that the BMA's GP committee agreed the contract deal 'without balloting GP BMA members'.

One further motion warns: 'This heist of GP registered NHS patients, through dint of making primary care contract holders hastily sign network contracts and agreemnets by May 2019, suggests that the real agenda of GP contract change is to "evolve" independent GP practices into extinction over five years.'

It suggests that the motive behind this is to replace practices with 'integrated care system-run primary care, paving the way for integrated care providers on a new contract'.

The BMA has said it cannot comment on motions ahead of debates at the ARM, and NHS England said it would comment 'if and when this is debated'.

Integrated care

However, the BMA's GP committee warned earlier this year that proposed legislation on integrated care provider contracts threatened to undermine the influence of PCNs.

The committee warned in February that GP practices must not be pressured to give up their existing contracts, after the government confirmed changes to secondary legislation that mean 'GPs who wish to integrate with an ICP can easily transfer their services from previous contracts to a new ICP contract if they choose to do so'.

BMA GP chair Dr Richard Vautrey has spoken strongly in favour of the five-year contract deal, however, saying earlier this year that the agreement 'sets us on the road to rebuilding not only general practice but also the wider primary healthcare team'.

The contract is set to increase practice funding by almost £1bn over five years, with a further £1.8bn to support the formation of PCNs. CCGs are considering applications from GP practices across England to form PCNs - with the networks expected to be operational across the country from July.

The 2019 BMA ARM takes place from 23-27 June in Belfast.

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