The BMA will continue to fight for improvements to general practice after securing £256m investment for GP contracts, including for pay, expenses and indemnity cover for GPs in England.
Agreement reached with NHS England over the terms of the 2018/19 contract will see a number of benefits.
This includes an initial 1 per cent increase in pay and 3 per cent uplift to expenses, ahead of any future announcement on pay by the DDRB (Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration).
The total investment of £256m will also see around £60m devoted to supporting GPs with the rising costs of medical indemnity, and £10m to support the roll out of an e-referral service.
There will also be increases to reimbursements for locum cover resulting from staff sickness and parental leave and an important inflationary uplift to vaccination and immunisation payments which have not increased substantially for some time.
BMA GPs committee chair Richard Vautrey (pictured below) said that increases to GP pay were long-overdue, and that the agreed contract changes are the first step towards rectifying ‘a decade of pay cuts’.
He added that while the increased investment included within the contract was welcome, much more work was still needed to be done to improve the position of general practice in England.
He said: ‘For too long, GP pay has been in decline, despite working harder than ever to deliver more appointments in an increasingly under-pressure NHS.
‘From the outset of these negotiations we have been resolute that we would not accept a 1 per cent uplift for pay and expenses, but made it clear that after a decade of pay cuts, it is time GPs and their staff received a proper pay increase.
‘We have therefore provided strong evidence to the DDRB that doctors should be given an uplift of RPI plus 2 per cent, to bring us in line with the wider economy and we expect the Government to fund any DDRB recommendation.
He added: ‘While this agreement alone will not resolve many of the issues facing general practice today, it builds on our progress from the last two years and provides stability to practices at a time when there is little else stable for our profession.’
Dr Vautrey added that his committee was continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Care on plans to introduce a state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs from next April, as well as the launch of a review into GP premises beginning as early as this summer.
He said that further collaboration would also take place towards developing the use of social prescribing and establishing local pilot schemes as part of the electronic prescription service roll-out.
He said: ‘While these changes are a further step in the right direction, and build on the important improvements last year, what is urgently needed is for the Government to continue to work with the BMA to provide general practice with the proper funding and support it needs to guarantee the future of the profession and ensure safe and high-quality care to patients.’
Speaking about the contract, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said that the agreement represented ‘a further concrete step in investing in and strengthening general practice’.
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