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BMA suggests PCN withdrawal not imminent

BMA suggests PCN withdrawal not imminent

The BMA has indicated that a mass PCN DES exodus is not imminent, despite the GPC’s mandate for the scrapping of PCNs entirely.

At the Best Practice conference in Birmingham yesterday, the BMA’s GP Committee suggested these would stay beyond the end of the five-year deal that first introduced them.

Deputy GPC England chair Dr Richard Van Mellaerts said: ‘[2024] is when the present five-year contract cycle ends and we move onto something different. 

‘The baseline is that things continue, so there is not going to be a point at which everybody suddenly needs to make their ARRS staff redundant or close down their PCNs because the mainstay is that everything continues.’

At the same time, a slide presented at the talk acknowledged that ‘exiting the PCN DES’ is LMC ‘conference policy’.

GPCE had said it would ‘discuss’ how it will ‘enact’ policy to withdraw GP practices from PCNs in July,
after GP withdrawal from PCNs by next year became official BMA policy at the highest

It followed a GPC commitment to policy that PCNs pose an ‘existential threat’ to the independent
contractor model in May
– two years after England’s LMCs had voted in favour of a similar motion.

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But the BMA recently set out that it wants PCNs to evolve into ‘locally flexible neighbourhood teams’ as the vehicle for collaboration between local GP practices.

GPs currently have an extra opportunity to opt out of the network DES without breaching their contract, thanks to recent changes to the DES announced by NHS England.

New BMA guidance encouraged practices to ‘reflect’ on the changes as well as the ‘impact’ of the DES, saying that opting out could lead to both ‘significant’ reductions in workload but also ‘significant financial consequences’.

And the GPC is polling practices on what they would ‘be willing to give up in order to reduce [their] workload’, including ‘being part of a primary care network’.

The BMA’s indicative ballot in November last year showed over half of GP practices were willing to opt out of the PCN DES as part of a range of protest measures concerning the Government’s GP access fund.

And while data obtained by Pulse last month revealed more than 99% of GP practices signed up to the 2022/23 Network Contract DES, dashing speculation of a mass PCN exodus, GP leaders stressed this is not emblematic of GP enthusiasm for the DES.

Meanwhile, the GPC also proposed a new payment-per-contact model as part of the new GP contract starting in 2024 during the conference taking part this week.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 14 October, 2022 10:41 pm

Because the sheep haven’t looked up and seen their slaughterhouse yet; herding yourself, and shooting yourselves in the foot. A sad representation to apparent intelligence.