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Dr Chaand Nagpaul: ‘The new contract gives general practice a much-needed breathing space’

After tough negotiations, we have reached an agreement with the Government which gives general practice a much-needed breathing space and greater stability for practices and patients.

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.

At the same time, we must not lose sight of the relentless pressure on general practice from rising demand, declining resources and the move to transfer services from hospital into the community.  We are now at a critical juncture, faced with a shortage of GPs, with surgeries closing and facilities in many practices increasingly inadequate to deliver high-quality care.

The Government has said that it understands the pressures on GPs and their impact on patient care and access to services and that it is committed to delivering the necessary solutions.  Now that we have agreed a contract for next year, we need the Government and NHS England to work with us to address the immediate wider pressures on general practice – as set out in the BMA GP committee’s plan for short term measures –  to ensure that general practice can be sustainable and have the capacity to deliver care that patients need.