Welsh GP contract deal delivers £25m funding boost and partner incentives

GPs in Wales will receive a £25m increase in funding in 2019/20 as part of a new GMS contract deal that will also provide financial incentives and extra support for GP partners.

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

The deal will see the global sum increase from £86.75 per patient in 2018/19 to £90 in 2019/20, which includes a 3% uplift to the general expense element of the contract.

Practices will also receive additional funding to cover the rising cost of pensions, which saw employer contributions rise from 14.9% to 20.9% on 1 April 2019.

As part of the deal the government has committed up to £5m to incentivise GPs to take on partnership roles. A new ‘partnership premium’ will be available to all GP partners, regardless of their length of service - although as yet it is unclear how this will work.

The government and the BMA have also agreed to a standard approach local health boards will take with practices when a GP partner is at risk of being the last person standing. The BMA said this meant that GPs in this position would not find themselves 'at risk of bankruptcy'.

Cluster working

Under the deal practices will now be contractually required to be members of a cluster and the QOF will be replaced with a new quality assurance and improvement framework (QAIF).

This framework will include a 'basket' of quality improvement projects focused on patient safety that practices will have to deliver at a cluster level. Practices will also now be expected to plan the delivery of enhanced services at cluster level. Enhanced services will be reviewed more fully during 2019/20.

Meanwhile, an additional £9.2m will be paid to practices to implement the access to in-hours GP services standards, which were published earlier this year. A further £3.765m has been added to the global sum to help practices fund the infrastructure needed to meet the standards, which they are expected to achieve by March 2021.

Welsh GPC chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘The introduction of the partnership premium, an increase in the global sum and the additional funding to address the rising costs of employer pension contributions, are a clear commitment by the Welsh government that they intend to secure the independent contractor model for GPs into the future.

‘The move to addressing last person standing issues will also ensure that those who have dedicated their careers to improving the health and wellbeing of the communities of Wales do not face the risk of bankruptcy.'

Reassurance for GPs

‘This contract will provide reassurance for GPs and ensure that patients continue to receive services in the community and as close to home as possible,' Dr Jones added.

Health minister Vaughan Gething, said: ‘Over the last 18 months we have continued with our ambitious programme of reform to the GMS contract. I acknowledge that negotiations have taken longer than preferred, but this reinforces our commitment to fully engage with the health service and GPC on contract reform - with Wales being the only nation in the UK to fully engage the health service in this way.

‘This agreement provides an additional boost to GMS services and once again represents a better deal than that being offered in England. The new contract delivers the much needed investment into services to improve sustainability and to meet the aims set out in a Healthier Wales, including an increased focus on cluster working and seamless provision of services.’ 

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