Welsh government unveils near £12m GP contract uplift for 2018/19

GP leaders in Wales have backed an £11.67m uplift to the GMS contract in Wales for 2018/19, in a deal that includes an interim 1% pay rise, funding for indemnity costs and cuts to QOF.

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones
GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones

Under the deal revealed on Monday, GPs will receive an interim 1% uplift for pay and a 1.4% increase in funding for expenses - but this could rise once delayed advice from the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) is published.

GPonline reported earlier this year that in evidence submitted to the DDRB - which offers independent advice to the government on doctors' pay - the BMA had demanded enough funding in the 2018/19 GMS deal to deliver a 2% pay rise for GPs on top of the RPI measure of inflation, currently running at 4%.

The deal announced by the Welsh government includes a £2.7m package to help GPs and 'wider practice teams' with rising indemnity costs.

QOF reduction

In a bid to cut workload pressures, the QOF has been stripped back to disease registers only - apart from flu targets, which remain in place. The 'cluster network domain' - which incentivised practices to work together across localities, has been reduced to a requirement for five meetings per year.

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: 'I’m pleased that our collaborative working relationship with Welsh government and NHS Wales has enabled the challenging work of the review of the GMS contract in Wales to be taken forward in a positive manner to make general practice sustainable for the future.

'This agreement provides much needed financial stability for practices through the indemnity offer and interim pay and expenses uplift, whilst awaiting the DDRB determination. It will also protect practice resources so that they can be used on caring for patients.

GP workload

'The reductions in bureaucracy and workload will also provide some much needed respite for practices and clusters facing unprecedented demands.

'I am confident that these significant improvements to the contract will deliver real benefits to GPs across Wales.'

GPs will also be offered mentoring and coaching; and the deal includes agreements to explore access to health board employment benefits packages to improve GP recruitment, and to tackle barriers to working for GPs who have recently left the workforce.

A flu outbreak enhanced service will be extended, and support for the 50% of GPs who need to switch IT systems after the provider EMIS was excluded from the country's most recent primary care IT deal, will be offered from January 2019.

The deal also includes plans for 'improved recording of Welsh language provision at practice and cluster level'.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said the deal was the start of an 'ambitious programme of reform to the GMS contract'.

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