After negotiations with the Welsh Government, BMA Cymru Wales is pleased to announce that ‘unrealistic’ targets set out in the Access Standards element of the contract for GPs have now been relaxed, with the current system rolled over for another year due to concerns raised about the impact of the pandemic.
Thanks to a strong petition by GPC Wales, (General Practitioner Committee) practices in Wales will no longer be expected to meet the ‘unachievable’ target of answering 90% of patient calls within 2 minutes of the recorded message ending.
Increased telephone traffic caused by COVID-19, the administration of the Covid vaccination programme and the reintroduction of shielding were reasons expressed by the committee why practices would not be able to meet this target in the present financial year.
New targets were set to be introduced from April this year, but thanks to the successful work of the committee in securing a continuation of the present system until April 2022, practices will not face having to accommodate new measures during a pandemic.
Other concessions achieved by the negotiations include a 12-month extension to the guarantee on premises revaluations for another year to provide further certainty to practices during the pandemic as they adapted to new working conditions.
Dr Phil White, chair of GPC Wales said:
“Given the unprecedented pressures on general practice and the wider NHS - including delivering the largest vaccination campaign in history – now is not the time to introduce major contractual changes. What’s needed is stability, reassurance and support, allowing GPs and their teams to continue to support their local communities.
“We are therefore glad to have secured agreement with the Welsh Government to hold off on any significant changes or requirements from April, while continuing to support practices and their patients through the most challenging period of the pandemic so far.
“We will continue discussions with the Welsh Government in the months to come, ensuring any changes later in the year deliver the best for general practice and their patients – as we try to rebuild and restore services after the pandemic”
Notes to editors
- The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- Information relating to the Access standards can be found at https://www.bma.org.uk/media/3339/wales-gov-quality-and-improvement-framework-2020-21.pdf