Senior GPs expect to vote on fresh contract offer next week

GP leaders look set to vote on a revamped package of contract measures by next week ahead of a special conference that could decide the future of primary care networks (PCNs).

The BMA's GP committee will meet on Thursday 6 February - just three weeks after rejecting a package of changes to the GMS contract that NHS England hoped to implement from April.

Senior GPs are expecting to vote on a revised package of contract changes - including a revamped version of the controversial draft network DES, which has been widely criticised by the profession and left the future of PCNs in significant doubt.

It has emerged, however, that whatever version of the DES is presented to GP leaders at the 6 February meeting of the BMA's GP committee will not be the first re-draft of the network DES.

GP contract

The BMA has confirmed that the contract package rejected by GP leaders on 16 January included a version of the draft network DES that was different from the version consulted on - although no details have been made public about how significantly it had been altered.

The fact that the GPC voted on a version different from the one consulted on publicly has left some GPs questioning the integrity of the consultation process, which ran from just before Christmas to 15 January - with some speculating the new draft must have been drawn up before the consultation closed.

GPonline understands that NHS England was collating responses daily throughout the consultation period and met with BMA negotiators on the evening of 15 January to discuss an updated contract offer.

NHS England director of primary care and system transformation Matt Neligan wrote on Twitter before the consultation closed that the draft specifications had prompted 'lots of feedback to date that tells us we need to make changes' - adding that officials were 'committed to doing just that'.

Network DES

GPonline reported earlier this month that the GPC had rejected a package of contract proposals for April 2020 and voted for a special conference to take place once negotiations on contract changes were complete.

The motion passed by GP leaders said the BMA's GP committee 'condemns and rejects the PCN DES draft specifications put forward by NHS England' and that a special conference should 'be held as soon as is practicable after contract negotiations have concluded'.

The BMA confirmed a GPC meeting will take place on 6 February - if the meeting backs contract plans put to it, a date for a special confernece could be agreed soon after.

Accountants warned last week that the contribution practices are expected to make to the cost of hiring extra staff through PCNs could strip £400m from GP funding - while one LMC warned that practices could face costs of more than £100,000 per year each if they remained in PCNs.

Senior doctors leading networks have threatened to pull out, and at least one has already quit over the plans - although NHS England has stressed that they remain in draft form and that it is open to changing them.

The RCGP has joined calls for a rethink on the draft network DES specifications - warning that the version of the plans consulted on created a 'clear risk' that PCNs will fail.

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