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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Minister calls for massive GP pay overhaul

By Steve Nowottny

A wide-ranging shake-up of core GP funding is looming after Lord Darzi's report called for major changes in the way practice income is determined.

The MPIG faces being scrapped, and the global sum formula fundamentally altered, as ministers look for new ways to tackle health inequalities on the back of the interim findings of the Next Stage Review.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said he was 'not going to be tearing up the GP contract' or 'issuing any threats'. But change looks inevitable, with the report demanding it is made easier to move practices, and that GPs are rewarded for their 'ability to attract patients'.

The review will consider 'how to provide a more equitable link between the funding that a GP practice receives and the number of patients for whom it provides care'.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed this would include looking again at 'all funding, which includes MPIG arrangements'.

Lord Darzi's comments follow months of rumblings over the future of the MPIG. In April, then-health minister Andy Burnham told Pulse that the MPIG could be scrapped to fund incentives for extended opening. And last week the NHS Confederation called for the abolition of the MPIG and an overhaul of the square root formula for adjusting QOF payments.

But GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'I don't think the MPIG is going to go. If the global sum is uplifted to the point where the MPIG is not required, the MPIG will go. Until that point it can't go, other than by destroying 90% of general practice.'

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