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06-12-2012 | General practice | Article

GPC fears over GP contract plans

Abstract

Full consultation letter

medwireNews: GP leaders have warned that the Government's proposed changes to the GP contract will place too many demands on practices at the same time as restricting their ability to deliver services.

The overhaul of the GP contract in England, details of which were unveiled today in a Department of Health consultation (click here), includes plans to share out next year's income uplift more equally among practices and to phase out the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee.

QOF thresholds will be raised and the organisational domain discontinued altogether, while practices will be expected to deliver services in three new areas, namely dementia assessments; management of frail elderly and others at risk of unplanned admissions; and online patient access to services.

Responding to the announcement, GPC Chair Dr Laurence Buckman said that while some of the proposals appear sensible, others - such as referring patients to educational programmes that are not widely available - would be unworkable, while the Government has not properly considered the overall impact on practices.

"Practices are already under huge workload pressures and we have real fears that these proposed changes will result in an even greater load at the same time as forcing through a reduction in core funding," said Dr Buckman.

He urged the Government to enter to "real dialogue", warning that the consultation must not be a "rubber stamping" exercise to impose the deal in 12 weeks' time.

Noting that the compromise recently reached in Scotland over future changes to the GP contract involved "a cooperative and consultative approach", he added: "The UK government needs to follow that example."

medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price, Senior medwireNews Reporter