The BMA has revealed what amendments it requested for the 2022/23 GP contract, including a ‘recovery fund’ for long-term conditions and changes to QOF and childhood immunisation payments.
While the 2022/23 GP contract update was imposed without agreement from the BMA, the proposals could indicate the direction the new GPC leadership wants to take the GP contract in future negotiations.
GPs are currently bound to a five-year agreement which is due to expire 31 March 2024, and the BMA had previously said it was not seeking to renegotiate the current five-year GP contract, outside of the usual annual amendments.
However, new BMA guidance on the 2022/23 GP contract said the GPC had ‘sought improvements on the tabled NHS England proposals and put forward suggestions outside the five-year framework for agreement.’
But it added: ‘However, these discussions were not seen as negotiations by NHSEI.’
It highlighted the BMA’s key rejected requests as:
- resources to manage general practice pressures;
- a long-term-conditions recovery fund;
- reform of childhood immunisations IOS (Item of Service) and QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework), with ‘additional support for childhood immunisations’ within QOF to enable practices to ‘deliver more for their patients without being financially penalised’;
- a tapered approach to QOF to support recovery;
- the provision of long Covid occupational health; and
- a new contract for general practice.
A BMA spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Within negotiations, various discussions took place. This included the BMA pushing for additional immediate support, and beginning talks around a new GP contract once the five-year deal concludes in 2024/25.’
The BMA guidance said that NHS England ‘refused to discuss’ its proposals ‘despite repeated requests from GPC England’ but instead ‘remained aligned’ to the five-year plan agreed before the pandemic.
And it reiterated that the ‘default’ position is for the existing contract to ‘automatically roll forward unless it is changed’ when the five-year framework concludes at the end of March 2024.
The BMA update said: ‘NHSEI seem willing to understand the current day pressures being faced by GPs and their teams, but there was seemingly no willingness to act decisively to support the profession so that it can continue to deliver care to those who most desperately need it.
‘As a result, no agreement has been reached. These contract changes do not go far enough to support access, safe working or backlog pressures in the context of a raging pandemic that has impacted all matters of life across the world.’
Other rejected amendments the GPC sought had included:
- additional funding uplifts rather than the 2.1% agreed in 2019 in line with inflation at the time;
- agreement to cover the employer contributions for the uplift in National Insurance for the proposed 1.25% health and social care levy;
- increasing the IOS for referrals under the Enhanced service on obesity and weight management.
What is happening with the GP contract?
Earlier this month, NHS England announced the imposed GP contract changes for 2022/23, which said that PCNs in England would need to offer routine services between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays.
And NHS England told GPs earlier this month that it wants to start ‘thinking beyond’ 2023/24, when the five-year contract comes to a close.