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NHS England to launch consultation on new ‘voluntary’ GP contract this month

NHS England is planning to publish consultation details regarding the new ‘voluntary’ GP contract for large practices this month.

In a letter to the health service urging calm in light of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, chief executive Simon Stevens said the referendum outcome would have no immediate impact and everyone should get on with rolling out the reforms set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

He admitted that in the longer term, the NHS’s reliance on workers from the EU and beyond would have to feature in negotiations, which is why NHS England is setting up a negotiating team to be the voice of the NHS when Brexit talks begin.

Addressing the contribution of foreign nationals working in the NHS, Mr Stevens said that ‘it’s a statement of the obvious that we’re going to continue to need and benefit from their service in the years ahead’, adding that NHS England will ‘play our part in ensuring that opportunities and risks for the NHS are properly understood and factored in’ when UK withdraws from the EU.

But Mr Stevens said that ‘rather than being distracted by the current Westminster swirl’, NHS England is ‘going to be using the coming months to get on with what NHS England was set up to deliver: a steady hand on the tiller, providing operationally-independent leadership for the NHS on behalf of patients and the public’.

‘Being very practical about it, during the rest of July you can therefore expect to see NHS England pressing on with concrete action to solve long-standing challenges,’ he added, saying this would see NHS England ‘advancing on our key national clinical priorities’.

He said this would include, ‘in line with the GP Forward View’, publishing ‘consultation details of the new multispecialty community provider [MCP] voluntary GP contract’.

Mr Stevens said: ‘At a time like this your continuing personal contribution and leadership has never been more important. Let’s not get distracted. We know what needs doing; now is the time to get on with it.’

The news comes as Pulse reported that pilot areas are expecting details of the contract to be published in full by September. Six of NHS England’s MCP ‘vanguards’ around the country are preparing to trial the contract starting from next April.

Speaking last week, Manchester LMC chief executive Dr Tracey Vell indicated that MCP contracts would run for 15 years and could cover indemnity costs of individual GPs.

The Government has already said the contract will abolish QOF and include a requirement to provide routine seven-day access.