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A new five-year GP contract has been agreed, with £405m of funding confirmed for 2019/20 that will in part be used to support practices to join networks.
The contract, which has been negotiated by NHS England and the BMA’s GP committee and is effective from April, will provide practices with almost £1bn of core funding over the five years – plus an additional £1.8bn investment in primary care networks.
This will include guaranteed increases into the global sum, a new direct enhanced service (DES) worth around £2 a patient for practices to join networks and funding for new healthcare workers, as well as an indemnity scheme to cover GPs and all practice staff.
The DES regulates the more specialised services a practice is expected to offer and is designed to cover the ‘enhanced aspects of clinical care’ that extend beyond the limits of what is considered to be essential services.
The BMA said the £405m provided for 2019/20 means practices would be able to increase staff pay by at least 2%.
Under the contract, there will be funding uplifts to the global sum of around 1.5% a year, which can be adjusted if the economy experiences particularly high or low inflation.
In addition, the new ‘practice participation’ DES will account for funding worth an extra circa 1.5% increase on the total core contract a year.
This is on top of the funding for the state-backed indemnity scheme. The full details of the funding will be announced later today.
Other changes under today’s announcement include:
Ian Dodge, national director for strategy and innovation at NHS England, who led discussions with the BMA, said: ‘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.’
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS England’s acting medical director for primary care, said: ‘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 £4.5 billion 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.’
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘We are confident that these widespread changes – the most significant in 15 years – will deliver the best not just for GPs across England, but also for the patients they treat on a daily basis.
‘Recent years have seen hard-working family doctors deal with anverstretched workforce doing their best to meet rising demand from patients suffering more and more complex conditions, all on the back of a decade of underinvestment in general practice.
‘Therefore, we are pleased after months of discussions with NHS England, to have negotiated a package of reforms to the GP contract and beyond, that will begin addressing the unsustainable situation – whereby doctors are choosing to leave the profession while patients wait longer and longer for appointments – and laying the foundations for a general practice fit for the future.’
Key elements of the five-year GP contract
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.