Contract changes will help end the ‘treadmill of bureaucracy’ for GPs, it has been claimed.
BMA Cymru Wales has hailed the collaborative approach between its negotiators and officials that led to the deal announced today.
The changes to the contract for 2014/15 will see QOF (quality and outcomes framework) points reduced by almost a third.
Practices will be required to take part in three national care pathways to reduce emergency department and unscheduled care admissions. These pathways cover the early detection of cancer, end-of-life care and frail older people.
The contract also seeks to strengthen links between GP practices within LHBs (local health boards) and encourage them to work in clusters to improve patient care.
From 2015/16, the money given to practices as part of the MPIG (minimum practice income guarantee) will be redistributed over a seven-year period.
BMA Welsh GPs committee chair Charlotte Jones (pictured below) welcomed the new deal and the collaborative approach by the Welsh government.
She said: ‘We believe that these changes will enable practices to have the ability and capacity to manage demand and the needs of their patients better, as well as reducing bureaucracy.
‘We believe these changes will make a significant difference to the challenges that GP practice teams face day to day.’
Dr Jones added that she understood practices would be anxious about the MPIG redistribution but assured them that the proposals had been modelled down to individual practice level.
Network of practices
She said the WGPC believed this to be ‘the safest and most pragmatic way forward, which should not destabilise practices and, I assure you, will protect the outlying practices in perpetuity’.
Dr Jones said: ‘We urge practices to read the detail of the proposals, await their individual letters and read our further information on this which will be sent via email to all practices within 24 hours.’
On the proposed networks of practices, she said: ‘The WGPC recognises the potential value of networks to meet the Welsh government’s strategic priorities but these can only be effective if LHBs work closely and proactively with practices and support them in ensuring they are successful in delivering improved patient care.
‘The minister’s guidance to LHBs to this effect is welcomed.’
Health and social services minister Mark Drakeford thanked the WGPC for its work in reaching an agreement.
More time for patients
He said: ‘The changes we have agreed will remove the treadmill of bureaucracy facing GPs, allowing them to spend more time with their most vulnerable patients, particularly [older frail people].
‘By removing some of the current requirements on GPs, we are freeing up valuable time and putting more trust in the professional judgement of doctors, allowing them to treat their patients as individuals rather than to satisfy a set of criteria.
‘We are also, by changing the funding formula for practices, addressing the inequalities in health which exist between the most and least affluent areas of Wales.
‘It makes perfect sense for GP practices to work with each other to provide a wider range of care within geographical areas, which we will see happen more [often] as a result of changes to the contract.’
GP contract agreements were reached in England and Scotland last year. The deals included a reduction in bureaucracy, fewer QOF points and a focus on the most vulnerable patients.