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Unplanned admissions DES to be renewed under new GP contract deal

The 2015/16 GP contract deal renews the unplanned admissions DES for another year, extends the online services offered to patients and introduces a ‘named GP’ for everyone.

The deal – announced today by NHS Employers – also includes the publication of net GP earnings, a 15% reduction in seniority payments and improved paternity and maternity arrangements for practices in England.

The GPC says the deal will provide ‘stability’ and ‘much-needed breathing space’ for practices, with no changes to the overall size or value of the QOF – although discussions over whether some of the clinical indicators should change are ongoing.

The deal also scraps the patient participation DES and the alcohol DES; they will become contractual requirements and the associated funding used to boost global sum.

It also promises a ‘strategic discussion’ over GP premises and that NHS England and the GPC will ‘work together on workforce issues’.

The main changes include:

  • A named GP for all patients, including children, with a simpler requirement to inform patients at the ‘next appropriate interaction’.
  • Patients will be given online access to all coded information in their GP records online, but not free text. A larger proportion of appointments will be available to book online and GPs will also be required to offer patients email access to the practice.
  • The unplanned admissions DES will be renewed, but with the reporting template cut by half. Care plans for patients who die or move away will now count within the 2%, and those who received one during this year will have to be reviewed, but will not need a completely new care plan. A new ‘patient survey’ will be introduced.
  • Funding for locum cover for GPs on maternity and paternity will become an ‘automatic right’ for all practices.
  • No changes to the size or value of the QOF, although discussions are continuing over the NICE menu of changes to clinical indicators. Plans to hike thresholds have been put on hold for another year. Point values will be adjusted to take account of population growth and relative changes in practice list size
  • There will be a 15% reduction in the total seniority payments as agreed in 2014/15
  • GPs will be required to publish their average net earnings on their website by March 2016, although non-contract earnings will be exempt.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the negotiations had been ‘tough’ but had resulted in an agreement ‘which gives general practice a much-needed breathing space and greater stability for practices and patients’.

He said: ‘We have secured changes aimed at freeing up GPs’ time and improving patients’ experience of general practice.  Measures to reduce bureaucracy, and allow family doctors to spend more time with patients are a step in the right direction.’

Mr Hunt said: ‘GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and by bringing back a named accountable GP for everyone we will strengthen the relationship between GPs and their patients.’

‘I understand the pressures that general practice is facing with an ageing population, but we want make sure that all patients get personalised care tailored to their physical and mental health needs, supporting people to live healthier lives.’

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Dame Barbara Hakin, national director for commissioning operations at NHS England, said: ‘Our vision is to see general practice play an even stronger role at the heart of local communities, offering more joined up and proactive care for patients. This is vital in addressing the rising demands on NHS services.

‘Today’s contract changes recognise that and most importantly are aimed at improving care for patients.’