Commissioning leaders have made a last-minute plea for the Department of Health and BMA to return to contract negotiations, with warnings that an imposed contract will be a distraction from commissioning.
The chairs of the NHS Alliance and the NAPC have both warned of the consequences of the proposed contract imposition on 1 April, the same date CCGs take control.
Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said: ‘It is certainly extremely sub-optimal that you have a contract imposed, and it is really sad that NHS Employers and the BMA can’t come to an agreement.
‘I am not sure that the current debacle with the contract is helping morale in general practice at a time when it is desperately important that GPs stand with their commssioning groups and are signed up to their aims.
‘I would say, let’s for heaven’s sake see if we can’t go back to the table and have an agreed contract not an imposed one. For my money, I think there are issues in the proposed contract, for instance with regards to quality framework standards which frankly are too draconian.’
‘That said, I really don’t think that one should affect the other. Our new role in looking after population health is really quite different from any grievance we might have in terms of a contract being imposed in our role as providers.’
NAPC chair Dr Charles Alessi said: ‘I hope that we are not in a world of imposition. I hope we’re in a world of dialogue.
‘Any contractual dispute is always a distraction to commissioning. Let’s keep on talking and find a way to manage the contractual arrangement between primary care and the system work. We’ve got to work with others to get a solution. We’re all in the same boat. We’ve got to find a way around it rather than grandstanding. That’s not going to help anybody.’
Talks between NHS Employers and BMA broke down in October and the DH has consulted on its proposed changes since December. The consultation closed last week with the DH set to announce the outcome ‘shortly’.
It comes as the Family Doctor Association warned that the contract looks set to go through largely unchanged from proposals after meeting with the NHS Commissioning Board last week.
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