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Reaction to the new five-year GP contract

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP chair:

‘We hope that today’s announcement of the new contract will meant that we can finally turn a corner towards making general practice sustainable for the future. Our colleagues on the BMA’s GP Committee have done an excellent job of negotiating with NHS England to secure a deal that is in the best interests of our profession and our patients.

‘Now we need the forthcoming NHS England workforce strategy to deliver viable measures to continue recruitment efforts into general practice, and initiatives to keep more GPs working in it.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP Committee chair:

‘This package sets us on the road to rebuilding not only general practice but also the wider primary health care team; delivering an expanded workforce embedded within practices and giving GPs a leadership role in bringing together the community healthcare team.

‘These changes present a real opportunity to demonstrate that GPs will lead the development of a more resilient community-based health service for the benefit of our patients for years to come.’

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England acting director of primary care:

‘This contract gives five-year funding clarity and certainty for practices while giving patients improved services. Primary medical and community care resources will increase by £4.5bn by 2023/24 and rise as a share of the overall NHS budget. And this agreement confirms how much of this new investment will stabilise and transform primary care through general practice and the evolution of primary care networks. It’s a game changer and signals the start of a new era for general practice.’

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive:

‘This five-year deal unarguably represents the biggest boost to primary care in more than fifteen years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services. It provides the practical foundation for the big service improvements in the NHS Long Term Plan. Patients across England – in towns, villages and cities – will all begin to see the benefits, beginning this year. And it allows us to keep all that’s best about British general practice while future-proofing it for the decade ahead.’

Ian Dodge, NHS England national director for strategy and innovation: 

‘General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, and the NHS needs general practice to survive and thrive. Through this comprehensive deal, the BMA and NHS England have sought to solve the big problems that general practice faces, and make it possible to expand services for patients.

‘Having a long-term plan has allowed us to come up with a five-year funding deal for primary care, for the first time in NHS history. And it is also a good deal for taxpayers, with money going directly into extra staff and services.’

Prime Minister Theresa May:

‘GPs are the cornerstone of the NHS. They are often the first point of contact people have with the health service and have a crucial role in making sure everyone can get the treatment they need at home and in the community.

‘That’s why GPs are front and centre of the long-term plan for the NHS with more funding than ever before as part of the biggest expansion of primary and community care workforce in the history of the health service. This new five-year deal means GPs can plan for the future with confidence to help deliver the benefits for patients set out in the long-term plan.’

Health secretary Matt Hancock:

‘I want the NHS always to be there for us when we need it. That means better access to GPs. This new contract provides certainty and security for all those working in general practice, and better, more modern access for patients.

‘GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and I want every patient to be able to access a GP quickly and increasingly online. Today’s agreement, building on our Long Term Plan for the NHS, backed by an extra £20.5 billion a year, will make that a reality.

‘Everybody should be able to access a GP when they need to, in a way that suits them – and from embracing digital technology, to providing more flexible options for booking and attending appointments – we are giving greater power to patients to get the care that is right for them.’

Dr Gaurav Gupta, Kent LMC chair:

‘I think this five-year contract deal can help stabilise the profession and the state backed indemnity will go some way in easing the recruitment crisis. Practices need to be at the centre of and lead primary care networks for full benefits of the deal to be realised. Much more work is needed to make general practice sustainable for future but this deal is a good step in the right direction.’

Dr Jackie Applebee, Tower Hamlets LMC chair:

‘I cautiously welcome the contract. If the Government really is going to shoulder the future costs of indemnity this is very welcome, although hugely overdue.

‘We have worked in networks in Tower Hamlets for over ten years. This has led to successful collaboration and improved health outcomes, but we have managed to do this without surrendering our GMS contracts and I think other areas should beware of being seduced into trying alternative contracts other than GMS, they lay themselves open to the risks of procurement in the future.’

Dr Russell Brown, East Sussex LMC chair and East and West Sussex GPC representative:

‘The major win is on indemnity. Removing its responsibility from practices is a game-changer. My concern with networks is whether HMRC will view services provided by networks to practices, for example, as VAT-able. We need to be careful about this, but it is on the radar of things that need to be considered.

‘I agree, all this should have happened a long time ago, but we are now in a place where we have NHS England, board and senior management team, and the health secretary recognising the value of the current model of general practice and want to preserve it. I don’t think they’re just paying lip service to that. I think the bit like networks are pretty pragmatic ways of achieving the political wishes whilst also protecting GPs and practices.’

Nicholas Grundy, GP in Teddington and chair of campaign group GP Survival:

‘In the past, when funding was announced for networks it was non-recurrent, effectively asking GPs to work in new ways and to bare the risks of employing additional staff if things didn’t work out in the future. So it is undoubtedly positive that funding for the primary care network contract is recurrent.

‘The fact that we’re being asked to bare much smaller costs shows that NHS England is committing to this in the long-term. The risks are whether network working will deliver the outcomes we all want. It will be a new way of working for many people.

‘There is also an unaccustomed honesty in the contract, it accepts repeatedly the problems of the current situation. When it talks about the QOF, it starts out with the three biggest problems with it; when it talks about pensions, it acknowledges how the current system disincentivizes people from working.’

Dr Uzma Ahmad, Walsall LMC medical secretary:

‘Those GPs who are not happy with the contract are correct in a way, because it has taken us a decade to give our young GPs faith in the partnership model, which has resulted in the current workforce and workload crisis. While the contract mentions the employment of more staff, it doesn’t mention anything to specifically encourage young people to join or stay with general practice.

‘But I am still positive and overall it’s a good package. It’s never too late for good things to happen and it will take time for things to get better.’