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New GP contract: what’s in and what’s out?

GP practices are to receive a 3.2% funding uplift next year, after belated contract negotiations between the GPC and the Government concluded last month.

The 2016/17 GP contract for England includes increased investment of £220m to cover a 1% pay uplift and rising expenses such as indemnity fees, national insurance, employer superannuation increases and practice running costs.

The Department of Health says this also includes £15 million to help cover the massive hike in CQC fees.

Accountants say this could amount to the first pay rise for GP partners ‘in many years’.

The GPC says the contract offers ‘immediate financial support’, and for the first time recognises the specific expenses incurred by practices.

Other key features of the deal include ending the dementia DES, a commitment to explore the removal of the QOF and the unplanned admissions DES, and new requirements for practices to report a high spend on locums and local access to seven-day routine services.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul says: ‘These limited changes provide some immediate financial support, which for the first time in years recognises the expenses incurred by practices and the resources needed to deliver a pay uplift rather than a pay cut’. 

Accountants are cautiously optimistic. They say early impressions of the contract are that it stands a better chance of delivering a profit increase – ‘however modest’ – than its predecessors.

Luke Bennett, a partner at Francis Clark LLP and a committee member of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA), tells Pulse: ‘As ever there will be winners and losers at an individual practice level, but an overall settlement that is intended to give a pay rise of 1% when inflation is running at less than 1% will be the first real pay increase (however modest) for many years.’

Bob Senior, AISMA chair and head of medical services at accountants RSM, says the deal ‘stands a better chance than some awards in recent years’ of delivering a profit.

NHS England and the DH stress that the GP package of measures set to be announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt next month will go further than these changes.

Mr Hunt says: ‘GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and I am determined to provide the support they need so they can spend more time with patients. This deal is just the start of significant new investment for general practice, which will help GPs to provide a truly modern, efficient service every day of the week.’

Scotland and Wales have moved to a three-year contract, which will be revised for 2017. Meanwhile, negotiations in Northern Ireland were continuing as Pulse went to press.