Welsh LMCs hit out at health boards ignoring GP contract

GP leaders in Wales have hit out at health boards diverting GMS funding away from practices and ignoring parts of the GP contract, with the BMA warning it could press for a single body to administer primary care across the country.

GPs at the 2018 Welsh LMCs conference on 20 January backed a call for the Welsh government to 'put an end to the needless postcode lottery' by euthanising local health boards and creating a single body to administer primary care across the country.

LMCs also backed motions condemning health boards being allowed to 'ignore nationally binding negotiations' and 'squirrel funding away from GMS for secondary care access schemes'.

In her keynote address to the conference, GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said the mood of the BMA was changing on this issue and that unless local boards adhered to national agreements the union may 'actively pursue' a push for a single, national health board to administer primary care.

GP contract

'Some health boards are dynamic and innovative in approaches to solving problems and we rarely, if ever, hear of difficulties with implementation of the national agreements in these areas,' Dr Jones told the conference. 'But the same cannot be said elsewhere with two health boards in particular standing out.

What I would say to any board that thinks they are going get away with not delivering the national agreement or the solutions needed to sustain practices unchallenged then they are very much mistaken.'

Despite anger with individual boards' treatment of GPs, Dr Jones said that the BMA and the Welsh government shared a view 'that the Welsh model of primary care needs to have multidisciplinary professionals wrapped around practices and/or available in the community'.

She listed 'positive changes' prioritised for the 2018/19 GP contract in Wales. Support delivered to GP practices for indemnity costs will be increased, ahead of the roll-out of a state-backed similar to the package being drawn up for England.

GP workload

A contract funding uplift is on the table, as are measures to ease GP workload, reduce the size of QOF, ease the premises burden on GPs and offer improved incentives to recruit and retain GPs working in Wales.

LMC representatives rejected calls to put financial pressure on locums to move to 'substantive' salaried or partnership roles by denying them access to NHS pensions or support with indemnity costs, after warnings from GP leaders that the move risked splitting the profession.

But GP leaders called for annual appraisals for GPs to be dropped in favour of two appraisals per five-year revalidation cycle, for HPV jabs to be extended to boys, and for measures to tackle the GP workforce crisis in Wales.

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