GPs in Wales will receive a 1% pay uplift as part of the 2018/19 GP contract, as negotiations have concluded between the Welsh Government and the BMA.
Alongside the pay uplift – which may rise following the completion of the pay review undertaken by the DDRB – practices will receive a 1.4% funding increase for general expenses and an additional £2.7m towards indemnity costs for GPs and their wider practice clinical teams.
Also as part of the agreement, the QOF will be reduced to disease registers – other than flu indicators which will be retained – in an effort to alleviate workload pressures.
The influenza outbreak prescribing DES, which was brought in from January in the wake of the growing number of flu cases, has been extended.
BMA Wales’ GP Committee said the extra funding, amounting to £11.67m in total, should provide ‘much-needed financial stability for practices’.
The Welsh Government and GP leaders have also agreed to measures including:
- exploring access to health board employment benefits for GPs to improve the recruitment offering available to them;
- an evaluation of the retainer and returner schemes;
- improved mentoring and coaching arrangements for GPs;
- exploring removal of indemnity barrier for recently retired GPs;
- support for IT migrations to commence in January 2019;
- improved recording of Welsh language provision at practice and cluster level.
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of GPC Wales, said: ‘This agreement provides much-needed financial stability for practices through the indemnity offer and interim pay and expenses uplift, whilst awaiting the DDRB determination.
‘It will also protect practice resources so that they can be used on caring for patients. The reductions in bureaucracy and workload will also provide some much-needed respite for practices and clusters facing unprecedented demands.
‘I am confident that these significant improvements to the contract will deliver real benefits to GPs across Wales.’
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 the top priorities.
This comes after Pulse reported that Welsh practice closures have affected nearly 50,000 patients in the past two years, with over 70 practices deemed ‘at risk’.
Health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘While progress has been made with a number of items, there is still a substantive body of work to undertake for the forthcoming year.
‘Nevertheless, this new approach provides us with the platform to reform the existing contract, tackle issues within the system and take forward those commitments that this Government has set out in Taking Wales Forward and Prosperity for All.’
GPs in England are hoping for a larger-than-1% uplift following the scrapping of the public sector pay cap last year when health secretary Jeremy Hunt said in the House of Commons that he now has ‘flexibility’ to award above-inflation rises.