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Watered-down MCP contract will not force GPs to provide seven-day access


23 February 2017

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GPs that form part of a multidisciplinary community provider (MCP) vanguard will not be forced to provide seven-day access if they sign a ‘virtual’ contract.

According to our sister publication Pulse, this is despite seven-day access being hailed by former Prime Minister David Cameron as one of the key features of the new contract.

NHS England’s draft guidance on the new contract, which was published at the end of last year, also said MCPs have to provide sufficient evening and weekend GP appointments.

GPs that form part of a multidisciplinary community provider (MCP) vanguard will not be forced to provide seven-day access if they sign a ‘virtual’ contract.

According to our sister publication Pulse, this is despite seven-day access being hailed by former Prime Minister David Cameron as one of the key features of the new contract.

NHS England’s draft guidance on the new contract, which was published at the end of last year, also said MCPs have to provide sufficient evening and weekend GP appointments.

However, it has been revealed that the Encompass MCP pilot site in Whitstable, Kent is planning to go ahead without weekend provision.

Leaders of the MCP have held stakeholder meetings to prepare a memorandum of understanding on the new model.

Dr John Allingham, medical secretary of Kent LMC, said there was no talk at the stakeholder meetings of including seven-day access and no indication that it would be included in a later contract.

He said GPs in the area are ‘hopeful’ that the Government will ‘quietly roll back’ on their promise to provide seven-day services ‘because there’s no staff to do it anyway’.

He told Pulse: ‘We can’t run services Monday to Friday. How on earth are we going to get enough doctors to open on Saturday and Sunday as well?’

It comes as none of NHS England’s six MCP pilot areas are ready to enter contractual arrangements from April this year, as had been the plan.

The six pilot sites are Southern Hampshire, Dudley, Manchester, Wakefield, Whitstable as well as Modality in Birmingham.

Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson, who is involved with the Southern Hampshire MCP pilot site, said a contract ‘won’t be implemented in April’ because GPs in the area are still voting on which form of the contract they want to sign.

NHS England guidance said last year that GP practices could hold virtual, partial or fully integrated MCP contracts, with only the latter replacing GPs’ GMS contracts.

Dr Watson said that with the draft contract ‘still being consulted on’ the implementation is likely to be delayed by a year.

He said: ‘By the time people have worked through that, gone out to procurement, appointed a provider and then get to the delivery phase. That’s going to take another 12 months.’

He added that, having spoken to GPs in other pilot sites, ‘some of them haven’t formed the legal entity that could hold the contract, so there’s still quite a lot of things to be done’.

Dr Paul Maubach, chief executive of NHS Dudley CCG and head of the Dudley pilot site, which reached the procurement stage in November, said GPs in the area will also not be signing a contract until April 2018 because ‘the timetable for our procurement takes a full year to go through’.

An NHS England spokesperson said different rules applied with regards to seven-day access depending on whether sites chose to become full MCPs or were only virtually integrated.

They added: ‘As intended all along, a number of sites are aiming to go live using the virtual option this year, followed by the development of a partially or fully integrated model once they have completed procurement processes being launched during 2017.’

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