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Talks collapse over contract pay deal

QOF to remain unchanged after GPC turns down offer of 'substantial extra investment'

GMS talks

Negotiations on revisions to the GP contract have collapsed after the GPC turned down a final package of proposals from NHS Employers.

GPC negotiators rejected plans to toughen up the quality and outcomes framework on the grounds that the money offered for the extra work was 'not acceptable' to GPs.

The proposals had included raised quality thresholds and a series of new clinical areas.

NHS Employers said the deal represented significant additional investment in general practice and that it was concerned and disappointed with the breakdown in talks.

It admitted major changes to the contract would be impossible for this year. It is not clear whether GPs will now get an inflationary uplift, as was proposed as part of the package.

Evidence submitted to the QOF review will now be considered for 2008.

The GPC admitted general practice was in a 'period of uncertainty'.

The Department of Health warned it would consider imposing a pay deal: 'Having already seen GP earnings rise by almost a quarter in 2004/05, the GPC is now rejecting a deal that could have seen GPs benefit from increases in investment.'

Dr Barbara Hakin, lead negotiator for NHS Employers, told Pulse: 'All parties should be concerned. I believe we made an offer that contained significant additional investment. It is disappointing, given there was an agreement there would be continuing improvement, that we haven't been able to agree any new clinical areas.'

Dr Hakin said there had been extra money on the table in exchange for 'efficiency savings' – citing changes in the QOF thresholds as an example.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'I'm disappointed. We felt the investment offered together with what was expected was not something GPs would find acceptable.'

He added: 'NHS Employers obviously feels it has made us its best offer in terms of an inflationary rise, efficiency savings and new areas of work. We've reached an impasse.'

Pulse understands the clinical areas in the recent offer were in line with previous Department of Health requests, in areas such as alcohol misuse, worklessness and obesity.

GPs feared the current impasse would be the calm before the storm.

Dr Peter Harvey, a GP in Holt, Norfolk, said: 'I've got change

fatigue here. I don't want any more, thank you very much.'

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