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Why is the network deadline so tight?

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At Pulse Towers, we spend our whole days writing about the minutiae of the GP contract. We live in a world where terms like PCNs , additional roles reimbursement, and network participation payment make sense.

But being at Pulse Live this week made me realise that, for most GPs – even partners – these are far away concepts. And for good reason – they are too busy caring for patients, doing 11-hour days to pay a huge amount of attention to these vague concepts

Most of the time, that’s fine. Most years there are – in the grand scheme of things – minimal changes to the annual contract, you receive your funding, you do your work and just get more burnt out. Of course it would be great if a contract actually reduced workload, but that is a pipe dream. 

But the point about this contract is that it does make major changes. Because GPs have six weeks to join new networks by mid May. It is an incredibly tight deadline – one that Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said is in place so practices can get all the riches on offer quicker.

There are many practices who won’t know what this means and the urgency of it (especially when funding they count on is already being moved to networks). 

This is a decision that will affect the way they work for the next five, ten, fifteen years. There are ways of funneling funding to practices before they agree their networks. So, again, why is this deadline so tight? 

They should think about pushing the deadline back – something that seems to be in fashion in Westminster right now.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at