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New GP contract to mandate practices to join primary care networks

Exclusive GP practices in England can expect changes to their contract from April mandating them to join networks of 30-50,000 patients in return for a major funding boost, Pulse has learned.

The BMA's GP Committee is in the final stages of negotiating the changes following the long-awaited publication of the NHS long-term plan, which will see primary and community care receive an extra £4.5bn by 2023/24.

The new contract is also likely to see changes to QOF and a review of funding the immunisation schemes, the long-term plan says.

Under the plans, all local enhanced services are likely to be funded by CCGs through the networks.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that the 2019/20 contract changes, which have yet to be signed off, will require practices to join primary care networks but that no practice would need to give up their GMS contract as a result.

The long-term plan says that the 'vanguard' programme - which saw GPs working in networks and covering larger patient groups - has been successful and can now be rolled out across England. As a result, GP practices will be told to enter into a network contract 'as part of a set of multi-year contract changes', and 'as an extension of their current contract'.

The plan says: 'The £4.5bn of new investment will fund expanded community multidisciplinary teams aligned with new primary care networks based on neighbouring GP practices that work together typically covering 30-50,000 people.

'As part of a set of multi-year contract changes individual practices in a local area will enter into a network contract, as an extension of their current contract, and have a designated single fund through which all network resources will flow.'

It adds: 'Most CCGs have local contracts for enhanced services and these will normally be added to the network contract.'

The networks will have 'expanded neighbourhood teams', which the plan says 'will comprise a range of staff such as GPs, pharmacists, district nurses, community geriatricians, dementia workers and AHPs such as physiotherapists and podiatrists/chiropodists, joined by social care and the voluntary sector'.

As well as this, the plan suggests other changes to the GMS contract, including:

  • Changes to QOF, which will se  a new Quality Improvement (QI) being worked up with the RCGP, NICE and the Health Foundation, while the 'least effective indicators will be retired'.
  • A ' fundamental review of GP vaccinations and immunisation standards, funding, and procurement' in 2019 in a bid to improve immunisation coverage.

Dr Vautrey told Pulse: 'Practices are already starting to develop networks covering 30-50,000 patients. This is a contractual change that will facilitate and support that. We will have more detail on that as soon as we finalise the contract.

'Every practice will be part of a network. How they engage with that will be for them to determine but I would hope that the contract changes will make it beneficial for them, to be part of working with colleagues across an area.'

He added that this would mean 'retaining your GMS contract'.

'This builds on this contract and will not replace it. Nobody will have to give up their existing contract,' he said.

NHS England said in 2017 it was expecting '100%' of GP practices to cover networks of 30-50,000 patients by 'around 2019'.


Related images

  • Dr Richard Vautrey

Readers' comments (33)

  • We'd love to do moer work, if all our clinical staff were not in empty EH week-end clinics, and if it were funded. If given a freer hand we've lots of ideas for admission reduction... but top down diktat is driven by soundbite demand schedule from senior politicos....however destructive twisting the service to provide them is!

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  • Anyone heard anything about the PM's £3.5Bn? I've not, not has the regional primary care director nor anyone in our CCG.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    A long time ago we had a short-lived thing called a PCG. We covered about 70,000 patients but it was forced into a larger PCT as it was "too small" we were told, and the buzzword was also "co-terminosity", so we lost out on that as we covered the area of two councils.

    Isn't someone just re-inventing the wheel here?

    Mind you, it might let a few more "Fugitives from the consultation" open their own magic casements onto a new world where they will be paid fairly generously for attending meetings and sending around email memos.

    Just like most (though not ALL) doctors on CCG boards, who were previously on PCT boards, etc.

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