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MPIG phase-out set to start this year

By Steve Nowottny

A phase-out of the MPIG could begin within a year, and ‘preliminary discussions' with GPC negotiators are already under way, it emerged this week.

In a letter sent last month and obtained by Pulse, Welsh health minister Edwina Hart argued that ‘the MPIG blocks the fair distribution of funding', and called for it to be phased out within five years. ‘I hope this is something GMS contract negotiators can deal with in the coming year,' she said.

The letter is the clearest indication yet that ministers intend to take action, and comes amid mounting pressure for the MPIG to be scrapped. The National Audit Office in England this week demanded the MPIG be phased out, while NHS Employers repeated calls for its removal.

Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales, said of the letter this week: ‘The timescales are just an aspiration, so I'm not overly concerned.' But he admitted that ‘preliminary discussions' between GPC Wales and civil servants to assess the ‘scale of the problem' were already under way.

‘Before we start talking about solutions we actually need to see how it will affect individual practices, and we've not even got to the stage of talking about that,' he said. ‘Any serious MPIG discussion is going to have to be at UK level – you can't do it in one country and not another.'

GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage said no offer had been made regarding the MPIG, and that uplifts to the global sum would be required before the GPC would consider its removal. ‘We're not talking about the entire economy of a country - a cruise missile could pay for it,' he said. ‘If the Government can't do it immediately then of course it's going to be a long-term agenda.'

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