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Paperwork binned and core funding boosted under new GP contract deal

The GPC and NHS England have negotiated a ‘significant’ new contract that delivers a number of benefits for practices, including a scrapping of the unplanned admissions DES and paying CQC fees in full for the first time ever.

Other benefits include significant improvements to sickness and maternity absence cover arrangement, and increased funding for the disability learning DES.

There will also be extra funding to cover increases in indemnity costs and the additional work caused by the new system for transferring patient records run by Capita.

However, in return, practices that regularly close for mornings or afternoons on a week day will lose their eligibility for the current extended hours scheme, while practices will also have to identify whether patients have a right to free NHS care when registering.

A statement from the BMA highlights that the parties have agreed to:

  • Direct reimbursement of practices’ CQC registration fees to prevent reductions in GP practice resources.
  • £30m to cover increases in indemnity costs.
  • An uplift to cover increasing practice expenses and to deliver 1% pay uplift.
  • Ending the unplanned admissions DES, which will see £156.7 million added to the global sum instead. This DES will be replaced with a new focus on those patients who are identified as living with severe frailty to ensure this vulnerable group receive appropriate care, ending box ticking and a complicated reporting system.
  • Increased funding for the learning disability enhanced service, to resource the extra work needed to care for these vulnerable patients.
  • Providing significant improvements to sickness and maternity absence cover arrangements.
  • Funding to cover the additional work caused by the new system for transferring patient records run by Capita.
  • Introduction of a system based on self-declaration to identify patients who hold a non-UK issued EHIC or S1 form1 when registering with a practice. This will enable funding to be claimed back from the country of origin of an overseas patient who receives care, with no upfront charge to the patient. An extra £5m will be added to the contract on a recurrent basis to support any workload implications.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC chair, said: ‘I am pleased to say we have reached an agreement which we believe offers important and significant improvements to the contract.

‘The changes will provide some much needed stability and respite for GP practices by reducing bureaucracy and providing financial relief in key areas. Progress on ending the bureaucratic unplanned admission DES is welcome as it will enable GPs to spend more time looking after frail older patients, rather than on box ticking.

‘Reimbursements for CQC fees and rising costs of indemnity will protect practice resources so that they can be concentrated on frontline care for patients. Guaranteed cover for reimbursement to the sickness and maternity leave system will help practices continue to provide GP appointments when staff are unwell.’

In a statement, the DH has highlighted that ‘GPs will be required to establish whether overseas visitors are eligible for free care and to open at times more convenient for patients’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘GPs are the first port of call for most people entering the NHS and are often a gateway to other health services.

‘We’ve made it clear that overseas visitors are welcome to use our NHS – but only if they make a fair and proportionate contribution to it, just as the British taxpayer does.

‘These changes are about making sure the primary care system plays a full and proper role in ensuring any appropriate costs are identified and recovered.’