GP leaders have rejected controversial contractual changes, calling for a fresh start to talks with NHS England.
The move comes amidst growing anger among GPs at NHS England’s attempt to get the new primary care networks to implement two demanding targets, aimed at care of the elderly.
The British Medical Association said its GP committee had voted for outright rejection of contractual changes proposed by NHS England and had condemned the proposed service specifications for primary care networks. The creation of the networks was embedded in changes to the GP contract last year and linked to significant investment in support staff for doctors.
At the same time NHS England finished a consultation on its latest proposals, stating: “We will now carefully consider how to respond adequately, balancing the ambition to improve services for patients across England and the need to stabilise general practice, with what can realistically be delivered by PCNs in 2020/21.” It had sought initially to set five objectives for the networks – and then reduced them to two for the coming year, one based on regular visits to care homes and the other aimed at reviews of patients with multi-morbidity.
The BMA said feedback from GP organisations and practices was “overwhelmingly negative”, as there were concerns”about the levels of workload involved, especially for those networks that were struggling to recruit additional staff,”
Its GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he hoped to begin new contractual talks with NHS England.
He said: “The message from GPs in recent weeks has been a clear one: proposals put forward by NHS England and NHS Improvement before Christmas have clearly been judged by the profession as unreasonable, and completely unachievable. At a time when demand and workload for practices are unprecedented, GPs working on the front line felt these draft specifications piled on more pressure and would undermine primary care networks that were only just getting off the ground.
“This overload would therefore put in jeopardy all of the good work and progress PCNs have already made for the good of both staff and patients. Even in the short time GPs were given to respond to the consultation, NHS England and Improvement were overwhelmed with feedback, which was unanimous in its condemnation. Now GPC England – which is elected to represent GPs across England – has made its own position clear and we will now go back to NHSE/I to seek a way forward.”