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GP practices offered a ‘fair deal’, says health minister

Government plans to revamp the GP contract are a ‘fair deal’ and are not about imposing efficiency savings on practices, said a health minister today.

Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care’s (NAPC) annual conference today, Earl Howe told delegates that the Government’s proposals to radically change the funding of practices were not ‘set in stone’, but will be imposed on GPs if the BMA does not work with them.

Earl Howe told delegates in Birmingham that the Government wanted to offer a contract mutually acceptable to the DH and the BMA, but that if negotiations were not possible they would not ‘lose out’ on the ‘opportunity to make improvements for patients.’

Commenting on the proposed changes, he said: ‘We want the BMA to work with us making this happen. But I should say we won’t back away from making changes that will deliver better care for patients.’

He denied that the Government’s proposed contract changes, which include a raft of new QOF work, retirement of ‘organisational’ indicators and a gradual hike in QOF thresholds, are ‘set in stone’, but said the offer of a 1.5% pay increase to offset the extra work for GPs represented a ‘fair deal’ and was in line with others in the public sector.

Although he admitted that additional investment is ‘modest’, he added that contract changes are not about efficiency or reducing investment in general practice, as the BMA have suggested.

He said:  ‘They are about improving patient care, saving more lives and improving services. This is about driving up standards for all and we want the contract to reflect the most up-to-date standards of care.’ he said.

He also addressed concerns from the NAPC that changes to make practice funding more ‘equitable’ could mean the end of PMS contracts.

He said: ‘I would assure you there is nothing in our proposals that should or would mean the end of the PMS contract.

 ‘The principles underpinning our proposals for equity, fair funding between practice, fairness to patients, improving care and saving more lives should be fair for all practices and not just some.

 ‘The Government has been clear. Funding to practices should be fair and equitable, it should allow for the additional services that practices provide and will reflect the performances of practices against quality schemes.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Let common sense prevail

    I love Politspeak.
    The changes to the contract 'are not set in stone' but 'will be imposed on GPs if the BMA does not work with' the DH (roll over).
    Well, looks like they're set in stone then.
    Earl Howe wishes to offer a contract that is 'mutually acceptable to the DH and BMA', but if it is not 'mutually acceptable' we're getting it anyway. So it has to be 'mutually acceptable' to one party only!
    Are we really living in a dictatorship these days?

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  • So in summary another health minister lies. The only reason it is not set in stone is because they have not yet managed to get us to pay for the inscription.

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  • Frederick Curzon, 7th Earl Howe, is a hereditary peer and ex-banker. I don’t think this automatically excludes him from being a decent well meaning person, but I prefer at least a vestige of democracy. I was suspicious when, last year, he increased the amount of private income allowed to foundation hospitals to 49%. You can see what they want the NHS to be!
    As for the BMA, I’m not convinced they can ever get the best deal for patients or doctors. BMA leaders must get used to being ignored by recent Ministers. Patients don't like primary care being so target driven, imposed by governments and much of the changes are not to 'improve patient care’ but are to reduce primary care QOF income.

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  • IT would not be set in stone if there is no support for the stone i.e. the number of G.P.s and the popularity of general practice dropped as a chosen speciality. It'll happen now and then the government will have to rethink -as it did ten years ago.

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  • Please do not blame politicians, blame our expectations from the NHS. The amount of money spent on the health and social services is enormous at a time when economy is not performing.
    Let everyone pay 50 pence per item for prescribed medication, and 10% of the cost of health services one receives; but let us not do rationing, let GPs refer their patients to secondary care where required. There should not be any pressure on GPs to save from prescribing and EUR. I believe it will work at least there will not be any wastage of resources. For very poor, who cannot even make this small payment, please develop some provision in the social security system.

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  • Are we prepared to work for £5.00 per consultation ? Ultimately it is up to us. The Govt will systematically target our pay and pensions. Note, they still pay management consultants and solicitors £ 1500.00 a day.

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