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What does the Government’s new GP contract mean for me?

The Government has announced that it will develop a new alternative GP contract for practices working at scale and offering seven-day access.

Q When will this new contract come into force?

From April 2017.

Q With whom will it be negotiated?

The Government has said it will ‘work with the medical and nursing professions’ to develop the new contract but the GPC was blindsided by the weekend’s news.

Q How will practices be paid under the new contract?

The Government has said that the contract will ‘properly recognise’ patient outcomes, ‘including 7-day access’ but has not given any details on what the funding model would look like.

Q Will the new contract really scrap QOF?

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said financial incentives linked to QOF would go but GPs would still need to record work linked to QOF targets ‘for clinical reasons’.

Q So who can sign up to it?

Large GP practices or federations with a practice list of at least 30,000 who are willing to provide seven-day access and additional patient care beyond core GP services.

The new contract ‘will be offered to GPs on a phased basis, starting with those groups of GPs that are most ready to work in this new way’, the Government has said.

Q Would we have to open 8-8, seven days a week if we agree to the contract?

Yes, although providers would not have to offer this at every site.

Q Do we have to sign up to the new contract?

No, the Government has said it will be ‘voluntary’.

Q Would I have to go salaried?

It does not look like it, although the Government has not given any detail regarding the financial model of the contract.

Q Who else will be involved in the new structures, apart from GPs?

The Government has said the GP federations and networks will provide ‘integrated care’ by working ‘more closely alongside community nurses, hospital specialists, pharmacists and other health and care professionals’.

Q Would I earn more money under the new contract, or why should we look to switch?

The Government has said that the ‘key principles’ of the new contract will be: ’more money for primary care, more control for GPs over the way they work, more time to care for patients, and services seven days a week’ but there is no detail on how this would affect individual GP income.

Q How will the Government fund this?

The Government has said it will fund it with money from within the £10 billion of additional investment in NHS it has promised by 2020 but that details will be set out in the Spending Review due later this autumn.

Q Why is the Government introducing a new contract?

The Tory election manifesto promised 8-8, seven-day GP appointments but GPC has stated it will not agree to a blanket inclusion of these terms into the GMS contract.

Further, it is no secret that the Conservative Government is not a fan of the 2004 GMS contract. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called the deal ‘disastrous’, claiming repeatedly that it cut the link between GPs and patients by allowing the out-of-hours opt out. 

Q What is the GPC’s stance on the new contract?

The GPC was not informed of plans but chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has reacted by calling it ‘a distraction’ from sorting out core issues with GP stress, impending retirements and quality of patient care.

Note: This Q&A will be regularly updated as Pulse learns more details. Please add your questions in the comments section below.