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GPs get new pay offer to save contract

GPC negotiators have tabled a last-gasp deal to salvage the contract and end 'panic' among GPs threatened with massive losses.

The deal, agreed in principle by the NHS Confederation and the Department of Health, would give a permanent guarantee to GPs that no practice would lose out.

Practices could choose to ditch the Carr-Hill formula that triggered fury after it became clear 70 per cent of practices faced a drop in income.

But the deal was still shrouded in uncertainty as Pulse went to press after a row emerged over whether extra cash was needed to fund the new income guarantee.

GPC chair Dr John Chisholm said the £1.9 billion Government cash for the contract was not enough to ensure there were no big losers among GPs. He said: 'Criticism has been centred on the formula when it should have focused on the fact there wasn't enough resource available to prevent some practices having very large losses.'

A ministerial source said the deal was agreed in principle, but would have to be funded from savings elsewhere in the contract.

Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation lead negotiator, said the £1.9 billion was enough to ensure all practices could earn substantially more.

The new deal, hammered out in days in contrast to two years for the original deal, came after GP anger at the Carr-Hill formula made a No vote a virtual certainty.

Dr Chisholm apologised for creating 'enormous panic' and 'terrifying' GPs.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum admitted the GPC had damaged prospects of a Yes vote. 'The more the uncertainty goes on the more damage it does.'

A ministerial source said: 'The presentation has been a complete nightmare and the whole thing has been very badly handled.'

GPs' pay choice

 · Permanent income guarantee replaces transitional payment protection scheme

 · Practices can ditch Carr-Hill weighting and base global sum on 2003/4 earnings plus inflation

 · Quality framework, IT and premises money and enhanced services pay still available

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