This site is intended for health professionals only

Negotiators making progress on new standalone Welsh GP contract

Welsh GP negotiators are hoping to make initial announcements on contract changes within the next six months, Pulse has learned.

The GMS contract in Wales is currently undergoing a ‘fundamental review’ with NHS Wales, Welsh Government and BMA representatives – with measures to stop practice closures among top priorities.

GPC Wales vice-chair Dr Peter Horvath-Howard said GPs needed to see some evidence of positive change quickly.

‘The contract talks will be two years but we have said we must achieve some gains to give to practices within the first year,’ he told Pulse.

‘We need a message to take to general practice within the next six months to say this is what we’re working on, this is where we are headed.’

He said one of the most pressing concerns was addressing risk to prevent vulnerable practices having to hand contracts back to health boards and the issue of last man standing.

‘Premises, indemnity, staffing costs, protecting income, trying to introduce a partnership incentive – these are all important,’ he added.

In the longer term, negotiators are considering a number of models regarding triage and use of multidisciplinary teams but there was unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Working groups have been set up in Wales to inform negotiations around workforce, minimising risks, cluster development, funding, demonstrating quality and integration.

Dr Horvath-Howard said they would be watching the outcome of the poll on the new Scottish contract very closely because there were bits of the contract they liked and bits that they would not seek to emulate.

‘We’re looking at fixed costs, de-risking and trying to make partnership attractive but the GPC was handed a very clear mandate that we had to maintain independent contractor status.

And while there was no real appetite to tear everything up and start from scratch, for instance with funding formulas, there would need to be significant investment and a clear public statement from government that ‘patient expectation will have to change’.

Out of hours, while not part of contract negotiations, is also an area where the GPC is speaking to the Government, he added.

The Welsh GMS agreement for 2017/18 included a 2.7% uplift, some new national enhanced services and a continued freeze on parts of the QOF.