The BMA’s England GP committee and NHS England have agreed that only minor changes should be made to the GP contract in England from April this year – in addition to funding increases for practices and Primary Care Network staff – giving practices the support and stability necessary to focus on general practice’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the BMA’s England GP committee and NHS England agreed a five-year contract framework, with further changes to be negotiated annually, implemented each April.
However, given the huge pressure on practices and need to prioritise work related to the pandemic response – including the delivery of the vaccination programme – GPC England and NHSE England have agreed that now is not the right time for significant changes to the contract.
This year’s agreement, however, does include:
- Funding commitments already agreed will be honoured.
- Increased funding for practices to hire extra staff, including paramedics, as agreed in February last year, through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), as well as flexibility to use this funding to employ a wider range of staff.
- Access to a community mental health practitioner for each Primary Care Network (PCN).
- Minimal changes to QOF other than those previously agreed, such as the new vaccinations and immunisations domain, while existing modules on early cancer diagnoses and improving care for patients with learning disabilities will be repeated with minor changes to account for the impact of the pandemic.
- Further funding will also go into QOF to support physical health checks for patients with serious mental illness.
- A commitment to discuss a new obesity and weight management service – and associate funding - within the year.
In addition, four new service specifications for PCNs will not be introduced in April as planned due to the need for pandemic prioritisation. Meanwhile, a decision is yet to be made on which parts of QOF will be implemented from April, which will be dependent on the pandemic situation at the time.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:
“Given the unprecedented pressures on general practice and the wider NHS – not least in 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 focus on the most pressing tasks at hand.
“We are therefore glad to have secured agreement with NHS England 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 NHS England in the months to come, ensuring any changes later in the year deliver the best for general practice and their patients – as the huge efforts to rebuild once the worst of the pandemic is over truly begin.”
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.
- Further details of this year’s agreement are available here.