This site is intended for health professionals only

GP contract deal secures 1% pay uplift and no change to the QOF

GPs are set to receive a 1% pay uplift next year, as belated contract negotiations between the GPC and the Government have concluded.

The agreement on the 2016/17 contract in England includes increased investment of £220 million into the GP contract, a 3.2% total funding uplift, of which 1% has been calculated to the be pay uplift and 2.2% reimbursement to meet rising expenses facing practices such as indemnity fees, national insurance, employer superannuation increases and running expenses.

The Department of Health said this also includes £15 million that will cover the massive hike in CQC fees.

The deal will also see the end to the controversial dementia DES, that saw practices paid to screen for memory problems, with the resources transferred into core contractual funding.

In addition, the GPC said it has reached a ‘joint commitment’ with the Government to ‘explore the end of the QOF’ – with no changes to the framework to be made this year.

The joint commitment also includes exploring an end to the avoiding unplanned admissions DES although this will still continue in 2016/17.

The GPC said the Government has also committed to ’a national strategy to reduce bureaucracy and manage demand on GP services’, and a 28% increase to the item of service fees for vaccinations and immunisations from £7.64 to £9.80.

However NHS England added that the deal will also see GPs required to:

  • record data on the availability of evening and weekend opening for routine appointments until 2020/21;
  • record annually the number of instances where a practice pays a locum doctor more than an indicative maximum rate, as set out by NHS England.

And the GPC stressed that the Government still has to come up with a ‘rescue’ deal for general practice.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The GPC was clear from the outset that these annual variations to the contract could not resuscitate general practice from the brink of collapse following years of underfunding, rising patient demand, staff shortages and unresourced work being moved from hospitals into the community.

’These limited changes provide some immediate financial support which for the first time in years recognises the expenses being incurred by practices and resources needed to deliver a pay uplift rather than a pay cut.

Dr Nagpaul further highlighted that there is ‘no new clinical workload requirement or any change to QOF, and the deeply unpopular and imposed dementia DES will be removed with resources moving into core funding’.

But he added: ’However, these changes do not detract from GPC’s ultimatum to Government demanding a clear rescue plan to sustain general practice in the immediate and longer term. We now need to focus on the real battle to revive general practice and which will require far broader solutions than tweaking the annual contract.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘Today’s welcome agreement between NHS England and the BMA provides GPs with some stability and support, and shows what can be achieved through sensible and constructive negotiation. However this contract is only one small element of a far wider package we’re jointly developing to help practices with workload, workforce and care redesign.

‘That will require radical new options, including further support for GP recruitment and return to practice, funding for additional primary care staff, new options for practice premises, a reduction in paper-based red tape, alternative approaches to indemnity cover, and redesigned out of hours, 111 and extended hours arrangements, to name just a few – all underpinned by much greater team working across individual practices.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce a GP rescue package before the end of February, that should ‘go further’ than the contract changes.

Commenting on the contract agreement, he said: ‘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. Today’s 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.’

What the 2016/17 contract deal includes

  • Increased investment of £220m (a 3.2% funding uplift) into the GP contract to deliver a 1% pay uplift and reimbursement to meet rising expenses facing practices, including higher CQC fees (£15m), practice upkeep and staffing costs.
  • An end to the dementia enhanced service with a transfer of resources to core funding.
  • No disruption for practices from annual contract changes, with no new clinical workload schemes or changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)
  • Joint commitment to explore the end of the QOF and “Avoiding Unplanned Admissions” enhanced service.
  • A commitment to a national strategy to reduce bureaucracy and manage demand on GP services.
  • A 28% increase to the vaccination and immunisation item of service fees from £7.64 to £9.80.
  • GP practices will be required to record data on the availability of evening and weekend opening for routine appointments, which is to be collected until 2020/21.
  • GP practices will record annually the number of instances where a practice pays a locum doctor more than an indicative maximum rate, as set out by NHS England.
  • The MenACWY 18 years will be extended to allow for the opportunistic vaccination of 19-25 year old non-freshers who self-present for vaccination.
  • NHS Employers and GPC will work with NHS England and the Department of Health to ensure that appropriate and meaningful data relating to patients’ named accountable GP is made available at practice level. This data will be shared internally within practices and used to improve services for patients.

Source: BMA and Department of Health