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GPC threatens to withdraw support for NHS reforms in Northern Ireland over contract deal

GPs will not be able to support the reforms planned to integrate care more widely in Northern Ireland unless ministers agree to modify the deal they are intending to impose on practices from April, the GPC has said.

The threat comes as the GPC says practices face the ‘harshest contract imposition in 30 years’ in Northern Ireland, which involves working to stricter QOF targets than in England, and the phase out of MPIG from 2014.

The GPC made the statement yesterday afternoon, as Northern Ireland’s health minister Edwin Poots launched his final plans for the new integrated care programme called ‘Transforming Your Care’ and while Northern Irish GPs are awaiting imposition of the harshest contract deal out of all four UK nations.

The flagship reforms are based a full-scale review into the country’s health and social care system and aim to build a sustainable model that could cope with increased demands on the service in the future. But the GPC said it will withdraw its support for the reforms if the contract deal is imposed.

Northern Ireland GPC chair Dr Tom Black said that while GPs supported the principles of Transforming Your Care, it would require a ‘huge shift’ of work from hospitals to general practice, which would be impossible if the current proposals are imposed on them.

He said: ‘The imposition of this proposed contract, which has not been negotiated or agreed by GPs, is the harshest seen in the last 30 years. There will be a huge increase in workload and a real cut in resources that will regrettably lead to practices having to make staff redundant and reduce essential patient services.’

‘Northern Ireland’s family doctors believe this to be entirely contradictory to the principles of Transforming Your Care, which GPs remain keen to support. For Minister Poots to time this for the same day as he is asking GPs to take on all of the extra work from hospitals is ill-judged.’

‘Health ministers in Scotland and Wales have already reached agreement with their GPs on contract changes.  We need Mr Poots to meet with GPs and agree a contract that will allow them to engage with Transforming Your Care. A failure to reach agreement will result in GPs being unable to engage with Transforming Your Care at any level at this time.’

Speaking with Pulse, Dr Black said he has a meeting with government health officials today, but, he added: ‘I enter this with no sense of expectation or optimism.’

English GPs learned the final details of their imposed contract on Monday, while Scottish and Welsh GPs have been able to reach an agreement with their respective governments.

Pulse Live: 30 April - 1 May, Birmingham

You can find out more about how to protect your earnings at Pulse Live, Pulse’s new two-day annual conference for GPs, practice managers and primary care managers. Richard Apps, partner at RSM Tenon, will be presenting a session on how to maximise your practice income and keep an eye on your cash flow.

Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

To find out more and book your place, please click here.