GP negotiators are to concentrate their efforts on improving funding for primary care networks – after agreeing no more than minor changes to the standard practice contract, it has been announced.
The practice contract deal already means that four primary care network services will not be introduced in April, the British Medical Association said. The BMA said it now had a vote from GPs requiring it to enter new talks about PCN enhanced services.
The practice contract, meanwhile, will see some “minor changes” to existing quality and outcomes framework arrangements, it said. These will include the early diagnosis of cancer and care of patients with learning disabilities – with adjustments to allow for the effects of the pandemic. There will be funding to support physical health checks of patients with serious mental illness – and discussions beginning on new obesity and weight management services.
The vote of GPs followed concerns about the effectiveness of BMA negotiations over primary care networks – and anger at the list of tasks, such as regular medication checks in care homes, that NHS England sought to allocate to PCNs. Some 4,500 doctors voted recently and 80% agreed to support the BMA a mandate to be their negotiator.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: “Given the unprecedented pressures on general practice and the wider NHS – not least in delivering the largest vaccination campaign in history – now is not the time to introduce major contractual changes. What’s needed is stability, reassurance and support, allowing GPs and their teams to focus on the most pressing tasks at hand. We are therefore glad to have secured agreement with NHS England to hold off on any significant changes or requirements from April, while continuing to support practices and their patients through the most challenging period of the pandemic so far.”
He added: “While significant challenges remain, as our recent survey of clinical directors showed there is cautious optimism among the profession around what groups can achieve together. GPC England will now go forward with this, emboldened by this renewed mandate, determined to achieve the best for general practice, family doctors and their patients. However, at this critical time the government needs to acknowledge the real challenges faced by the public and the profession and do more to support the flexible development of PCNs to provide the care our patients deserve in these challenging times and beyond.”