New GP telephone system dramatically increases costs for surgeries, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Friday 9 February 2024

The BMA has warned that a new framework for ‘cloud-based telephony’ systems, a requirement in the current GP contract that is designed to speed up booking GP appointments, is significantly driving up costs for practices. It is recognised by the BMA that the new telephony system could help patients and practices in easing the pressure on surgery telephone systems and support patients to get the care they require.

In a letter sent to NHS England, the BMA outlined concerns about the procurement process of the Better Purchasing Framework (BPF) in GP practices across England, noting that practices are experiencing huge cost increases when making the required changes from their current telephone services.

The BMA has raised concerns over the past year about increased costs to practices moving from existing suppliers on NHSE’s BPF, including during negotiations last year for the 23/24 GP contract. All costs towards facilitating the new framework are expected to be covered by each practice, with no additional funding provided for the rollout.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of the BMA GP England committee, said:

“At a time of significant pressure on GP practices, particularly on a contractual issue mandated by the 2023/24 imposition, this issue is of huge concern to GPs and it is having a direct impact on surgeries struggling to manage the finances they receive from government to run their practices.

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“Our concerns have long been ignored, and instead we’ve been told in meetings that costs for practices when changing to these services would not increase. This could not be further from the truth for many GPs across the country. Some are seeing rises of 300% to their current telephone system costs. We cannot expect GP practices across the country to cover these significant additional costs without much needed support to help them manage the transition.

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“Ultimately, without more funding in the practice infrastructure, this new system will be a further blow to GP surgeries already struggling to cope. We need an immediate pause on this new programme of work and then work to ensure this new system is in the best possible place, so we don’t create additional problems for GP surgeries across the country.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union 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.

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