Dr Barbara Hakin, who chairs the NHS Employers’ GMS negotiating team, said that ‘there was potential to make significant investment available to general practice in return for efficiencies across the contract.’
‘Unfortunately, despite months of discussion, the GPC has made it clear that we are unlikely to reach an agreement in time for April implementation,’ she said.
‘I am disappointed that we have been unable to reach a settlement for 2007/8 and that this potential investment may now be lost to general practice.’
Dr Hakin said that talks about the global sum formula review were continuing, and that background work to ensure improvement to the quality framework was expected to continue, with the review team now calling for evidence for 2008.
NHS Employers had been offering an inflationary pay rise, but only in return for efficiency savings and extra work, said GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum.
‘They feel they have made their best offer,’ he said. ‘We felt it was not sufficient to meet GPs’ expectations.’
Dr Meldrum refused to be drawn on the financial implications of Dr Hakin’s statement, saying that any pay rise for 2007/8 was still dependent on ‘a lot of unanswered questions’, notably any Review Body recommendations.
However, he conceded that without an agreement or a Review Body judgment, there could be less money on the table.
The DoH has said that the Review Body does not have a role under the new GMS contract (GP, 24 November 2006).
A DoH spokesman said that it would now consider its options. The DoH could impose unfunded changes from April.
‘It is disappointing that the GPC does not believe it is able to reach a negotiated agreement for 2007, he added.
‘Having seen average GP earnings rise by almost a quarter in 2004/5, to over £100,000, the GPC is now rejecting a deal that could have seen GPs benefit from increases in investment greater than pay recommendations being offered to other NHS staff.’
Meanwhile the GPC has struck an agreement with NHS Employers on the choice survey for England which will resolve fears over patient recall, postage costs and confidentiality.
On Monday all GP surgeries in England will be sent cards to give to patients in consultations asking whether they have had a discussion about choice.