I am writing to let you know that we have concluded negotiations on changes to the GP contract for 2014-2015.
The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee (GPC) has voted overwhelmingly to accept this negotiated agreement, and believes that this package as a whole puts general practice and all GPs in a better position to deliver improvements to patient care. Our aims in these negotiations were:
– to reverse the adverse impact on all GPs and practices of imposed changes from last year’s contract
– to reduce bureaucracy, box ticking and chasing of targets, which has added to excessive workload, widespread demotivation and has taken GPs away from attending to patients’ needs
– to provide stability with increased resources in core GP budgets, enabling clinical judgment and flexibility in providing care.
We believe that we have succeeded in achieving all of these. You will nevertheless appreciate that as with any negotiated agreement, there has had to be give and take and compromise on elements of the agreement from both sides. I would like to assure you that I and the GPC’s negotiating team could not have made a stronger case for GPs and general practice in this round of negotiations, and we fought your corner robustly.
The greatest benefit to GPs and their patients is that 238 QOF points have been removed and transferred into core GP budgets. Most of the imposed changes to the QOF from last year have been reversed. This will significantly reduce the daily box ticking that has forced GPs to spend time looking at their computer screens rather than the patient in front of them and will make a tangible difference to the daily lives of GPs and practice staff. These changes allow all GPs to be freer to be doctors, exercising clinical judgment caring for patients, and resurrecting a sense of professionalism.
Three of last year’s imposed Directed Enhanced Services have ended, with resources reinvested into core GP budgets. Together with the transferred QOF points, this significant transfer of money into core GP funds provides practices with stability and flexibility to deliver care based on the needs of their patients, and also protects these funds from annual unpicking and renegotiation.
The QP points in QOF have also been removed, and together with the current risk profiling DES will fund a new “avoiding unplanned admission” enhanced service. This new enhanced service will resource practices to provide coordinated planned care to their most vulnerable patients.
We have ensured that requirements for a named GP for patients over 75 and the monitoring of the quality of out of hours care are manageable for GPs. There are other contractual changes for IT, that include building on last year’s online access for appointments and prescriptions.
There are also important changes with the gradual phasing out of seniority payments. Faced with a government commitment to end age related pay progression across the public sector , we have negotiated for seniority payments to remain in place for the next six years for those currently receiving them and a commitment that all the savings made will be reinvested back into core GP budgets and therefore not be lost to the profession. However, we remain concerned at the impact this could have on GP retention.
I believe that through constructive talks we have reached an acceptable deal that is an important step forward for general practice and will help relieve workload pressures on all GPs. This now must be followed with a planned strategy for investment and development in general practice to meet the future challenges that it faces in the coming years.
With best wishes
Chaand Nagpaul Chairman, BMA’s General Practitioners Committee