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GP practices to be stress-tested before being allowed onto new contract

GP practices will have to prove that they can ‘manage reasonable downside risks’ if they are to sign up to the new voluntary contract from April, NHS England has said.

A draft of the new ‘MCP contract‘ – published today – says all GP practices will be tested by NHS England and NHS Improvement to decide whether they are financially stable enough to take on the new contract.

The voluntary contract will come into force in April 2017 for practices (or groups of practices) working in a ‘new model of care’ and for all others in groups of 30-50,000 patients in 2018. The aim is to bring ‘a much broader range of services into the general practice model’.

It was announced by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, who vowed to boost funding, banish the spectres of ‘box ticking and form filling’ and ensure patients had access to a seven-day service throught the new contract.

GP practices can sign up in a variety of ways, including a GP-owned company, a federation or as a joint venture between practices and a trust. GPs can also individually join an MCP as employees, with existing NHS bodies, like foundation trusts, holding the contract.

The draft confirms that the voluntary contracts will last for between 10 and 15 years, work to a whole population budget and with a gain/risk share for acute activity.’ 

Community interest companies and NHS foundation trusts are also able to able to deliver an MCP.

Every provider that submits a bid for a contract will have to prove that they can ‘manage reasonable downside risks’ according to the draft. The level of financial security will be laid out in the form of an ‘integrated support and assurance process (ISAP)’ that will be run by NHS England and NHS Improvement. This will be drawn up by commissioners who will determine how financial risk to the MCP will be managed.