Northern Ireland GP contract agreed for 2015/16

The GP contract in Northern Ireland will see a reduction in QOF points and retention of MPIG, as well as investment into overstretched out-of-hours services.

102 points will be removed from QOF
102 points will be removed from QOF

Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black told GP about agreements for the GMS contract for 2015/16.

Under the new contract deal, 102 points will be removed from QOF, bringing the total down to 547.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has said that this will be across 15 ‘government indicators’ but details are yet to be announced.

‘We have also declined to accept any MPIG changes - we think that they’re the wrong way to go,’ Dr Black said.

GP funding

Northern Ireland yesterday announced £15m investment into GP services, which Dr Black said was a ‘good start’.

The Northern Ireland GPC has said that a minimum of £33m is needed to bring the country up to the UK average.

The £3.1m investment into the severely stretched out of hours services is a ‘help’ but only a fraction of what is needed to stop the service from ‘falling apart’, Dr Black said.

‘Out of hours in Northern Ireland is underfunded to the tune of about £25m, so it’s only a small help towards it,’ he said.

£1.2m has also been allocated for blood and other diagnostic tests, which Dr Black said are often carried out by GPs for free.

‘We think it’s very important because GPs are doing an awful lot of phlebotomy for hospitals,’ he said. ‘GPs don’t have the capacity to be running bloods for hospitals without being funded.’

Two-thirds of the investment is going towards premises upgrades and expansion, which is capital investment outside of the contract. ‘It’s not going towards revenue, but it’s obviously helpful,’ Dr Black said.

Pharmacy plans

Thirteen out of the 17 federations Northern Ireland is developing have already been set up, and all of them will be up and running within the next six months, according to Dr Black.

Over the next five years, Northern Ireland hopes to see a pharmacist employed in every practice, following the RCGP saying that an ‘army of pharmacists’ was needed to help ease pressure on GPs.

‘The main thing we’re negotiating, which is not part of the GMS contract, is that we’re investing in pharmacists in practices through federations,’ Dr Black said.

‘In 2015/16, we will look for 60 pharmacists within our 350 practices, which is a fairly good start, so five of those federations will have pharmacists in a year. Over the next five years, we’ll push it out to 300-odd pharmacists.’

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