Feb 22

GP Contract 2023/24 Negotiations

Representatives of the GPC at the BMA report that they have met with Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, to discuss the GP contract deadlock.

The GPC had earlier reported they had rejected what they described as ‘insulting’ proposed changes to the GP contract in England, which ‘completely ignored the unsustainable and unsafe pressures practices are under right now.’

David Wrigley, GPC England Deputy Chair, says: 
“Mr O’Brien thanked us for the constructive approach to contract discussions and commented on how hard GPs are working, and sought to focus on unnecessary bureaucracy and what changes could be made to QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework). We raised the issue of the unsustainable pressures practices are under and the lack of investment, with the system working beyond capacity and the fact that every GP lost results in, on average, over 2,200 patients needing to be distributed to other already overburdened GPs. We stressed that stability is urgently needed for the next 12 months but the profession does not feel supported by Government at the present time, and that there is the perception that secondary care gets all the additional resource and focus and the huge negative impact this is having on GP practice workload.
 
Minister O’Brien confirmed that, within the forthcoming General Practice/Primary Care Recovery Plan, the primary secondary care interface is receiving particular attention, and acknowledged that there is more to do on GP appointments in terms of getting accurate data as the belief is GPs are actually doing more than national statistics currently show. Government/DHSC is also keen to tell a positive story regarding primary care. The Minister also reported willingness to change QOF, ARRS (additional roles reimbursement scheme), IIF (Investment and Impact Fund) where possible, bringing in changes faster and that DHSC welcomes ideas on this. 

We also raised the issue of QOF and the impact of the end of year focus on unnecessary “box ticking” and stressed that less prescriptive quality improvement style approaches would be better, as this would ensure an improved experience for patients with GPs able to focus on the right aspects of their care. 

We also stressed that the current intended core practice contract funding uplift is insufficient to help cover the cost of practice expenses and we strongly urged the Government to identify additional financial support for 2023/24 to ensure practices are not forced to reduce their workforce and thus patient access, to cut costs or, even more worryingly, cease operating altogether.”

The GPC update concludes by saying that ‘if the Government and NHS England refuses to negotiate an improved offer, and a contract is imposed on practices, we would be forced to consider all options, including the potential for industrial or collective action.’ We will update you on progress with the new contract as more news emerges.