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Gold, incentives and meh

BMA to ballot GPs if ministers go for MPIG phase-out

By Steve Nowottny

GPs will be balloted if the Government pushes ahead with its plans to axe the MPIG, the BMA announced today.

GPC negotiators have begun joint discussions with NHS Employers on possible changes to the contract and the 2009/10 pay award, the association said – and will be discussing ‘changes to the MPIG' in parallel.

The Government announced last month that the MPIG, upon which 90% of practices are reliant, is to be scrapped in a bid to increase competition among GPs.

In a letter to GPs, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Joint work is to begin on modelling changes to the MPIG arrangements to provide funding to practices in accordance with the nGMS contract's aim for a formulaic allocation based on workload.'

‘If there are to be any changes, the GPC negotiators believe that a number of critical conditions need to be met, including that there should be no losers in any changes to funding for essential services. To avoid destabilising practices and the services they currently provide for their patients, we believe every practice should receive some increase in resource.'

And he added: ‘If there are to be major changes to the contract, whichy would include changes to the MPIG, any final deal would have to be subject to the agreement of the profession.'

A BMA spokesperson confirmed that all GPs would be given a say on any changes to MPIG.

‘If it comes to it, there would be a vote,' she said.

Dr Buckman's letter also reveals negotiators are close to an agreement with the Government about the £50 million additional investment in new clinical work, with more details released of the enhanced service agreements that will be available to GPs when the negotiations are finalised.

As expected, the new clinical DESs will focus on beta-blocker use in patients with left ventricular dysfunction, fragility fracture registers in women at risk of osteoporosis and annual health checks for patients with severe learning disabilities, including physical examination and medication review.

GPs will also be encouraged to tackle problem drinking and ‘deliver an evidence based brief intervention' to those identified as drinking at hazardous or harmful levels.

The letter states that the BMA is planning a ‘follow-up UK wide campaign' to capitalise on the success of its Support Your Surgery campaign

It also confirms the BMA will make no further challenge to the implementation of this year's DDRB award, which will come into effect on 1 October.

‘If the proper consultation procedures are followed, the Department can unilaterally implement changes to the Statement of Financial Entitlements although any changes can not apply retrospectively,' Dr Buckman said.

‘We are advised that there are no further grounds on which we can mount a legal challenge.'

Dr Laurence Buckman

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