Exclusive NHS England is ‘not in a position’ to negotiate to a new five-year GP contract due to a lack of a funding commitment, with the 2024/25 contract set to be a ‘stepping stone’, Pulse can reveal.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse, national director of primary and community care services Dr Amanda Doyle said ‘it is almost certain’ that they will not be negotiating a new five-year contract starting next year.
She said that this is because NHS England only has a one-year funding settlement for 2024/25.
The current contract runs out in 2024, and it had been thought that the 2024/25 would herald a seismic change in general practice in England, similar to the 2004 contract that removed out-of-hours obligations from practices.
There have been radical suggestions from both sides of the negotiations, including moving to payment by activity, scrapping QOF and introducing contractual workload limits.
However, in the exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Doyle suggested that the next contract was going to be a one-year deal.
Dr Doyle told Pulse: ‘As you know this is the final year of the five-year contract framework that started in 2019. The reason that we were able to put a five-year contract in place, was that we had a five-year funding settlement from 2019 to 2024.
‘We only have a one year funding settlement for 2024/25 and so it is almost certain that we won’t be negotiating another five-year contract.
‘What we want to do is see what we can do in 2024/25 as a stepping stone to take us in the direction of travel that our strategy directs.
‘But we are not going to be in a position to commit to a five-year contract.’
In March, NHS England imposed a contract on GPs which included more stipulations around access, but no extra funding.
The main changes included GP practices having to offer patients an ‘assessment of need’ on first contact and ‘no longer being able to request that patients contact the practice at a later time’.
The BMA’s GP Committee had previously rejected the contract offer, labelling it as ‘insulting’ and warning that it would risk the safety of patients and cause more GPs to leave.
However, in April the GPC voted against organising industrial action over this year’s GP contract imposition, holding off while it sees how negotiations over next year’s deal turn out.