New five year contract announced for GPs
Yesterday (31 January 2019) the GPC and NHS England announced details of a new five year contract. The new contract is set to deliver to GP practices a £405m funding boost in 2019/20 and it is valued at £2.8bn over its five year term: £1bn to increase practice funding and £1.8bn to support the formation of “Primary Care Networks”. On its release it was hailed as “the biggest boost to primary care in 15 years” and it is “aimed at addressing both the workforce and workload pressures currently experienced by GPs in England, and improving services for patients by beginning to realise ambitions laid out in the NHS Long-Term Plan.” Here we take a brief look at just the main points to come out of the proposals:
Guaranteed investment in practices of £405m in the first year (starting 1st July 2019) and subsequent year-on-year increases to ensure that practice staff pay can be uplifted at least in line with inflation; networks to receive 100% of recurrent funding to employ social prescribers and 70% for clinical pharmacists this year (and the same for physiotherapists, physician associates and paramedics as they are introduced); and funding for practices to deal with subject access requests under GDPR legislation (and access to Data Protection Officers through the CCGs to provide support on GDPR issues).
All practices will be expected to join a network this year (through a Primary Care Network Contract to be introduced from 1st July 2019 to run alongside the standard form practice contract), it is through this contract that practices will work together to provide care to patients across a wider geographic area; networks will see the workforce expand to include physician associates and practice-based paramedics and physiotherapists (totalling 22,000 additional roles by 2023/24); networks will be expected to focus on some of the Long Term Plan’s commitments, such as support for care home residents and the early identification of cancer or cardio-vascular disease; and a new Network Investment and Impact Fund will be introduced from 2020, providing funding for networks that reduce the burden on secondary care.
A state-backed indemnity (as given to NHS hospital doctors) has long been called for and will now be provided to GPs from April 2019 for all NHS work.
Upgrading GP Technology
Practices will be expected to make 25% of appointments available for online booking, all practices will be offering repeat prescriptions electronically from April 2020, new patients registering with a practice will have to be offered online access to their patient records, and 1 appointment per day for every 3000 patients will be bookable direct through NHS111 at all practices; resources will also be made available to practices to enable online and video consultations for all by 2021.
GP Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)
Proposed changes will this year remove unnecessary indicators and provide a focus on professionally-led quality improvement.
There are other changes in the contract, such as rules on advertising of private GP providers, on publication of GP earnings over £150,000, and proposals on the pension annual allowance.
The GPC chair has described the deal as a “watershed moment” for general practice. It is hoped that these changes will begin to address the current situation of doctors choosing to leave GP practice whilst patients wait longer for appointments. In this way the reforms should begin a shift to a more sustainable, fit for the future service.
For more information on the new GP contract or if you want to discuss any issues surrounding specialist legal advice for GPs, Practice Managers or legal issues relating to GP premises email Stewart Gregory e. firstname.lastname@example.org