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Northern Irish GPs clinch last-minute contract deal

GPs in Northern Ireland have secured a negotiated contract deal to receive a 1.5% pay increase, with a final agreement struck just days before 1 April.

As a result of last-minute talks, the threatened removal of MPIG will not happen. In addition the Northern Irish GPC has convinced the government to reduce the number of QOF indicator threshold increases from a threatened 23 to just 13.

As for the QOF organisational points - which were going to be scrapped - 83 points will be discontinued and the funding will be directed towards global sum equivalent.

The threat to reduce QOF review dates from 15 to 12 months has been withdrawn, and the 15-month cut-off point will remain in place.

This represents a positive outcome for the NIGPC and it comes after the Northern Irish GPC last month threatened to withdraw its crucial support for Northern Irish health minister Edwin Poots’ ‘Transforming Your Care’ health reforms if GPC conditions were not considered for the 2013/14 GP contract.

The decision also leaves only English GPs with an imposed GP contract, after Scottish and Welsh GPC representatives clinched ameliorated agreements with their governments in December and January respectively.

As part of the agreement, further work will take place between NIGPC and the Northern Irish health department on MPIG to look at ‘more equitable’ funding between the practices which do and do not receive the income guarantee payment.

The NIGPC said the new increases in QOF indicator thresholds ‘felt achievable’, and it added that new clinical indicators have been ameliorated to remove ‘those that would harm patient care or be impossible to achieve’.

Also, a Northern Irish Assembly proposal to introduce mandatory health checks has been scrapped on GPC’s request, and an additional £3.5million will be added to QOF point value to reflect workload issues.

Northern Irish GPC chair Dr Tom Black commented: ‘NIGPC now feel that given that we have an agreement with DHSSPSNI on the contract that GPs in Northern Ireland are now in a position to engage with Transforming Your Care , the commissioning system that we feel is needed to improve services for patients.’