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GPC negotiating for end to annual ‘tinkering’ with GP contract

Exclusive The GPC is pushing in contract negotiations this year for GP practices to be given longer-term deals that are not subject to annual ‘tinkering’, Pulse can reveal.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that it is using the negotiations for the 2016/17 contract to tell the DH that annual change to GP terms and conditions are harming general practice, and that it wants a more settled contract.

He cited the example of Scotland, which has agreed to a three-year deal starting in 2017.

Dr Nagpaul said the contract negotiations are continuing as usual for 2016/17 but could not confirm whether rumours that the Government was pushing for seven-day access to be a contractual requirement in the new deal were true.

The GPC chair had previously told Pulse that his priorities for the next contract negotiations were ‘stability’ and to ’increase core funding in the contract and reduce micro-management’. Dr Nagpaul told Pulse in August that he was ‘happy to discuss’ an extension to current GP opening hours where ‘appropriate’, but not as part of the GP contract.

The annual round of GP contract negotiations has been complicated by the Prime Minister announcing a new voluntary contract for GPs in September, that would only be open to practices or federations with lists of at least 30,000 patients and would require seven-day opening to be provided.

Dr Nagpaul told Pulse: ‘There are big issues facing general practice. So while we are having negotiations on 2016/17, we are having dialogue about the bigger issues around workload, recruitment, the implications of local contracts, new models, etc. We have to look at negotiations in a new context.’

He added that the GPC ‘realise that tinkering with the contract each year is adding to GPs work’. As a result, he said: ‘Discussions on 2016/17 contract negotiations are being had – but that is not the main part of the negotiations.’

Dr Nagpaul cited the example of Scotland. He said: ‘There is recognition about this in the UK. For example, in Scotland they didn’t make any changes because they recognised they needed to look for something more sustainable.’

At the GPC meeting on Thursday, representatives voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling for a special meeting of LMCs to discuss the crisis in general practice, including the future of the GMS contract.