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GPs reject contract deal and PCN specifications

BMA GP committee votes against contract deal with NHS England and condemns draft PCN service specifications

Louise Prime

Friday, 17 January 2020

The BMA’s England GP committee (GPC) has voted against accepting a contract agreement with NHS England – and condemned the draft service specifications setting out expectations of primary care networks (PCNs) over the next four years, which the Royal College of GPs has previously warned would risk overloading PCNs still in their infancy, causing them to fail. The GPC announced last night that it has called a Special Conference of English Local Medical Committees (LMCs) so that GP representatives can debate the outcome of contract negotiations.

During their meeting yesterday GPC members considered a package of changes with which they had been presented – details of which remain confidential – and voted not to accept them. This means that GPC England and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) will now re-enter negotiations.

The GPC passed all parts of a separate motion, that the committee:

  1. condemns and rejects the Primary Care Network Direct Enhanced Service (PCN DES) draft specifications put forward by NHSE/I [in December];
  2. gives notice to the chair of the England Conference of LMCs to convene a Special Conference in accordance with conference standing order 2;
  3. mandates that such a Special Conference be held as soon as is practicable after contract negotiations have concluded;
  4. 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.

The BMA pointed out that GPs, PCNs, LMCs and many local and national organisations have, since NHSE/I released the specifications for consultation last month, given “overwhelmingly negative” feedback; and that practices have said they are concerned about the workload involved, particularly for those PCNs struggling to recruit extra staff. OnMedica reported yesterday that the Royal College of GPs called the specifications “overly prescriptive” – though their aims were “laudable” – and the College warned they risked piling additional workload pressures onto developing networks.

BMA GP committee England chair Dr Richard Vautrey said last night: “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, NHSE/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.”

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