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NHS Employers adds to GP contract confusion as they refute GPC claims

NHS Employers has hit back at GPC claims that the Department of Health has reneged on a deal they had agreed just weeks ago, deepening the row over the way negotiations have been handled over the GP contract.

The GPC has urged the Government to return to a deal that they claim was in its ‘final stages’ just weeks ago, but in a statement released yesterday (25 October) NHS Employers said the claim they were near to an agreement was false.

The Department of Health made a surprise announcement on Tuesday that talks with the GPC had broken down and that instead they were willing to seek to impose a deal that would see practice funding rise by 1.5% in return for a raft of new QOF work and the introduction of new DESs funded by retiring organisational QOF points.

At the time, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said that GPs would be ‘stunned and angered’ that the DH had disregarded five months of detailed negotiations between the BMA and NHS Employers which was in its final stages ‘just a couple of weeks ago’.

He said: ‘The Government must urgently rethink its approach and return to our negotiated settlement that was so close to being concluded.’

But NHS Employers, which negotiates on behalf of all four UK Government in contract discussions, said although previous negotiations with the BMA had been mostly positive, they were not ‘at any point close to being concluded.’

A spokesperson said: ‘While much of our discussion on the 2013/14 GMS contract with the GPC has been positive, the NHS Employers organisation does not share the BMA’s view that a negotiated settlement was at any point close to being concluded.

 ‘However, NHS Employers remains available and willing to further discuss potential changes to the GMS contract with the GPC and has already made that known to the GPC.’

Dr Buckman said the NHS Employers claims were ‘interesting’, but refused to comment further.

The row comes as ministers in Scotland and Wales took GP contract negotiations into their own hands, with GP leaders in Wales rejecting a deal based on the UK-wide proposals issued by the DH outright.