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BMA GP committee England votes down contract package and calls special conference

The BMA’s England GP committee has voted not to accept a contract agreement with NHS England and condemned the recently-published draft service specifications outlining what is expected of Primary Care Networks (PCNs)1 over the next four years.

Members of the committee, who met in London on Thursday 16 January, were presented with a package of changes but voted against accepting them. GPC England will now return to negotiations with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Details of the package remain confidential.

A separate motion2 condemned the original draft service specifications, put forward by NHS England and NHS Improvement in December, and called for a Special Conference of English LMCs3 to allow GP representatives from across the country to debate and consider the outcome of contract negotiations.

Since the specifications were released for consultation at the end of December, the feedback from GPs, PCNs, LMCs, and many local and national organisations was overwhelmingly negative, with practices concerned at the levels of workload involved, especially for those networks that were struggling to recruit additional staff.

BMA GP committee England chair Dr Richard Vautrey said:

“The message from GPs in recent weeks has been a clear one: proposals put forward by NHS England and NHS Improvement before Christmas have clearly been judged by the profession as unreasonable, and completely unachievable.

“At a time when demand and workload for practices are unprecedented, GPs working on the front line felt these draft specifications piled on more pressure and would undermine primary care networks that were only just getting off the ground.

“This overload would therefore put in jeopardy all of the good work and progress PCNs have already made for the good of both staff and patients.

“Even in the short time GPs were given to respond to the consultation, NHS E/I were overwhelmed with feedback, which was unanimous in its condemnation. Now GPC England – which is elected to represent GPs across England – has made its own position clear and we will now go back to NHSE/I to seek a way forward.

“This is therefore not the end of the process. We have a clear mandate from our colleagues to negotiate a deal that truly benefits and safeguards general practice, family doctors and their patients.”


Notes to editors

The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.

  1. Primary Care Networks are groups of GP practices working closely together - along with other healthcare staff and organisations - providing integrated services to the local population. Since April 2019, individual GP practices can establish or join PCNs covering populations of between 30,000 to 50,000LMCs are local representative committees of NHS GPs and represent their interests in their localities to the NHS health authorities. Find more information here.
  2. The wording of the motion is as follows. All parts passed.
    That this committee:
    i) condemns and rejects the Primary Care Network Direct Enhanced Service (PCN DES) draft specifications put forward by NHSE/I
    ii) gives notice to the Chair of the England Conference of LMCs to convene a Special Conference in accordance with conference standing order 2
    iii) mandates that such a Special Conference be held as soon as is practicable after contract negotiations have concluded
    iv) mandates that the purpose of such a Special Conference be to consider the outcome of the 2020/21 GP contract negotiations and what action the profession should take
  3. LMCs interact and work with – and through – the BMA’s general practitioners committee as well as other branch of practice committees and local specialist medical committees in various ways, including conferences. Note that LMCs are not regional BMA offices.

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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