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GPC hails success of rejecting contractual extended GP opening hours

Exclusive GP leaders have had to reject pressure from the Department of Health to make evening and weekend opening contractual for several years, the GPC has claimed.

Addressing the Pulse Live conference in London, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul listed this as one of the achievements of the BMA’s negotiators in recent years.

The only change to opening hours in the contract that comes in from next month is that GPs can no longer close for training for half a day a week while also collecting funding from the Extended Hours DES.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Throughout all the years that I have been chair, and before that, we have rejected any pressure to change our contractual hours. So we remain as GPs contractually obliged to provide services from Monday to Friday, 8-6.30.

‘So you will note that despite all that has been going on politically, our contractual hours have not extended beyond that.’

His claims come as all CCGs are due to be incentivised as of 2019 to extend access to evening and weekends from 2019, but via hubs run by the CCG or groups of practices.

In the session, Dr Nagpaul also revealed that GPC is having ongoing discussions with the Department of Health what might replace QOF, but that the GPC is reluctant for GPs to have to meet new onerous clinical targets to receive the same funding.

He said: ‘Critically, what we don’t want is for practices to then have to do more work to earn those QOF points back.’

He also warned there would be ‘huge winners and losers’ if QOF funding was simply moved into global sum ‘because of the fact that you will distribute current achievement based on prevalence to all practices on a capitation basis’.

He said: ‘Some practices would have lost tens of thousands of pounds in the process, so we need to look at this very carefully. It is not a simple solution.’

But he also stressed to delegates that the solutions to pressures faced by GPs cannot be solved by successful contract negotiations.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Critically, the contract itself, whilst it is important to all of us working in GP practices, will not solve the pressures and issues affecting general practice. These are wider.

‘In fact more importantly, it is probably the work that we do outside the contract that we all do without resources. The inappropriate unresourced shift of work into our consulting rooms that is perhaps a bigger problem than what is in the contract.’

He said some of the solutions would come from the GP Forward View – the £2.4bn promised rescue deal for general practice – but warned that it would be down to practices to hold CCGs to account to distribute funding streams. He said this was as NHS England’s area teams had shown they were ‘not capable’ of overseeing CCGs.