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GPC and NHS Employers reach contract 'settlement'

By Steve Nowottny

GPs look set to have to do more work – and potentially offer even more evening and weekend appointments - in order to earn the extra money promised as part of this year's contract deal, it was announced today.

The controversial plan – first revealed in Pulse in January – was confirmed today as the GPC and NHS Employers released further details of how this year's contract will work.

But the GPC has also negotiated up to £50m of the extra money for clinical areas.

The Government will invest as promised an additional 1.5% in GMS services – equivalent to £104m – but how it will be spent will depend on the recommendations of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Board. The board is expected to report shortly although a Department of Health spokesperson was this week unable to say when this would be.

The £104m will first be used to meet the cost of any inflationary uplift recommended by the DDRB.

If the DDRB recommends an uplift of less than 1.5%, the first £50m of the difference will be invested in clinical areas – the detail of which is currently being negotiated.

Any remaining money – potentially up to £54m if the DDRB were to recommend a third successive pay freeze – will be tied to new work.

The GPC said the money ‘would be offered through PCTs in England for local agreement with practices to provide additional services to improve local access and responsiveness.'

The statement also confirms other details of the new contract which have previously been announced, such as a number of small changes to the QOF. Under the IM&T DES, practice eligibility to receive one off payments will continue for England for a further year until 31 March 2009.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘GPs and their practices will be relieved that this long process is over and that they can get on with providing service to their patients. GPC will continue working with NHS Employers to clarify all of the details of this set of changes.'

Dr Barbara Hakin, chair of the NHS Employers' negotiating team, said: ‘This has been a difficult agreement to secure and both sides have put in a great deal of work to ensure that the final changes to the contract would improve services to patients and give the GPs the tools they need to deliver them.

‘These changes will result in some significant changes to the way GPs serve the needs of their patients locally. PCTs will now start discussions with GP practices at local level on the particular needs of their populations in relation to access.'

Dr Laurence Buckman: GPs will be relieved process is over Dr Laurence Buckman: GPs will be relieved process is over

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