GPC forces Government into retreat over APMS-style contract
By Lilian Anekwe
Exclusive: GPs will be given 'no new money' in their contract for this year, but have been spared an 'APMS-style' central contract being imposed on them by the Government.
With the long-delayed announcement of the contract deal now imminent, GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash revealed the Government was backing down from its original wish to tear up the existing GP contract after the strength of the profession's opinion over the NHS reforms became clear.
Dr McCarron-Nash said this year's contract talks have concluded with a 'fair deal' but that the Department of Health had refused to listen to BMA evidence on the dangers of reducing the MPIG.
Speaking at Pulse's Finance Skills for Challenging Times seminar in London today, Dr McCarron-Nash, a GP in St Columb Major, Cornwall, told GPs money was tight in the NHS: 'There's lots of talk about what we are going to have in the new contract - the first thing to say is there's no new money. The NHS is being asked to make £20bn in savings and general practice is no exception.'
'But once you see the negotiated changes, it's a fair deal for GPs. When we look at our colleagues losing their jobs, I hope you will see we have worked very hard to get a fair agreement.'
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, confirmed there was no new money in the contract agreement.
Dr McCarron-Nash said the strength of feeling shown by GPs over the NHS reforms, which has resulted in the BMA calling a Special Representative Meeting next Tuesday, had prompted ministers to think twice about rushing through sweeping changes to the GP contract this year.
She said her fears had been that the Goverment would push for short-term APMS-style contracts for all GPs, but that it had pulled back from demanding that in negotiations for fear of alienating the profession: 'What they wanted was to give us an APMS-style central contract. The Government appears to be softening and they have decided at the moment they don't have the clout to push us into a contract we don't like. That's because of the protests against the NHS reforms and the Special Representative Meeting next week.
'They know they need the profession on board if the NHS is going to balance the books. This is not the time to try and do away with the GMS contract.'
Dr McCarron-Nash added that the Government had refused to listen to GPC negotiators over protecting the MPIG and accused ministers of operating in a 'parallel universe'.
'I have no comprehension why the Government thinks 'it's just a bung',' she said. 'We show them evidence from our BMA Economics Units and they say they don't agree.
'Being a clinician, you would think they would take the evidence on board and act on it, but it's like they live in a parallel universe. They think it's unfair and overfunded. I can't see an uplift for the MPIG next year - we have not spoken about it since 2009 and I have not heard it mentioned yet.'
A Department of Health spokesperson said the new contract deal would be published shortly.
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: This year's talks have resulted in a 'fair deal' for GPs Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: This year's talks have resulted in a 'fair deal' for GPs Pulse seminars