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Government looking to include seven-day access DES in the GP contract

Exclusive GP funding could move into a new DES that will pay practices for providing seven-day access as part of networks from next year, Pulse has learned.

Pulse understands the idea has been floated by NHS Employers in ongoing GP contract negotiations, as members of the GPC called for a walk-out as the Government proposals were ‘lacking’.

There is also a proposal to put QOF funding back into the global sum, but there is some opposition from GPC, according to two sources on the GPC who wished to remain anonymous.

GPC was told by negotiators last week that the DES under discussion would incentivise practices to form networks and be able to deliver on the Prime Minister’s seven-day appointment pledge via hubs.

Pulse also understands that members of the GPC have called for a walkout from negotiations until after the LMCs’ ‘crisis’ conference being organised for early next year.

The calls were prompted by the uncertainty surrounding the Government’s plans for seven-day GP access and the potential of a new alternative contract and, as previously reported, the extra conference will see GP leaders discussing the future of the GMS contract.

The GPC said that the negotiations this year are not near completion because NHS Employers, which negotiates on behalf of NHS England, has been waiting for instructions dependent on the outcome of the Government’s Spending Review which was announced yesterday.

However, one of the anonymous sources said that the Government side was not offering much to GPs.

The source said: ’My understanding of the current contractual negotiations is that they are lacking. NHS England has brought very little to the table that is going to make a big difference.’

They added that there were calls at the last GPC meeting, held last week, to ’walk away from the negotiations, postpone them, until after the crisis conference’, including from ’some of our largest LMCs’.

’They were asking what is the point in negotiating when we don’t know the future direction of the NHS at all.’

Pulse also understands that the GPC is not in agreement on the suggestion to put all of the QOF money into global sum.

The source said: ‘There are some in GPC who think that it is safe to start bagging the money into global sum now. Because if QOF is going to go, why lose that money. If we put it into the global sum then it can’t be taken away when the QOF goes.

’[However], there’s going to be winners and losers and GPC can’t move forward with something where portions of the GP population are going to lose, at a time when everyone is struggling.’

Dr Vautrey said: ‘As you know, we can’t comment on specifics during negotiations which are ongoing. We’ll update you as soon as we are in a position to do so.’

An NHS Employers statement said: ‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment while we are currently in negotiations with the GPC’.

The Government’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review yesterday underlined plans for seven-day routine GP appointments for all, saying it would be supported by £750m over the next five years.