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Welsh GPC eyes move towards longer-term contract

The Welsh GPC is in talks to move away from an annually negotiated UK contract in favour of a longer-term arrangement with Welsh Government, in a bid to give practices greater ‘stability’.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse on Wednesday, GPC Wales Chair Dr Charlotte Jones said practices were tired of the contract being ‘up in the air’ every year and that the Welsh Government were looking at a ‘longer period of negotiated agreement’.

She added that GPC was not seeking major changes at its last contract meeting on Tuesday, but that there was headway being made on reducing ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘micromanagement’ of GPs.

This comes after GPC Scotland confirmed in August that they would move to a three-year contract deal, with a wholesale contract negotiation to take place when it ends in 2017/18.

The UK negotiating team have warned that abandoning the national contract could pose ‘huge risks’ for the long term future of general practice.

Dr Jones told Pulse: ‘We want to reduce bureaucracy again, and micromanagement. Those are key areas we’ve fed back as being a problem for practices, and that’s no surprise – I’m sure that’s across the UK.

‘And we want stability for practices, so instead of this never-ending annual round of everything being pushed up in the air, thrown-up-in-the-air pack of cards then however it falls… that’s quite worrying for practices because you’re never quite sure with the change what that means in terms of practice income or what you’ve got to do.’

‘So we’re hoping for a period of stability, and Welsh government have heard our calls for that.’

When asked whether they would pursue a three year deal, similar to Scotland’s Dr Jones added: ‘We have asked Welsh government to look at that with us, and they are actively engaging in a longer period of negotiated agreement.’

It is not yet known whether GPC Wales would look at a full renegotiation of the contract in future, but Dr Jones did say it remained a priority to ensure patients had consistent general services across the UK, while recognising the ‘peculiarities’ of Welsh general practice.

Dr Jones told Pulse: ‘I think when you look at the GMS contract across all four of the nations; I think they’re still very similar with their flexibilities. I think that’s something we’re not keen to move from in Wales.

‘We think it’s important that patients, wherever they live in the UK, have a consistent level of general services. But then we need to recognise the peculiarities of Wales, I suppose, and how we can best meet those challenges, and for us it’s around practices working closer together for sustainability.’