The BMA’s GP Committee has today called on the Government and NHS England to start negotiations on a ‘refreshed, fit-for-purpose’ GP contract to reflect the changes in the profession over the past few years.
The GPC agreed a motion today calling on the Government to negotiate the next contract, arguing that Covid and the worsening state of general practice means the current one is no longer fit for purpose.
However, the motion states that this new contract will start from 2024/25, and there is no indication that there will be renegotiations for the coming year.
The GPC said it wants a new contract that tackles ‘the challenges of workforce shortages, tired outdated premises, a population with increasing medical complexity’.
The committee also said it wants the contract to provide support to GPs in managing the record backlogs in communities, while reaffirming its support of the independent contractor model.
However, Pulse understands that some members of the committee felt that the motion failed to make any material difference, and was simply calling for negotiations that are set to take place anyhow.
According to a statement from the BMA, the GPC had been discussing NHS England’s proposals for amendments to the current contract.
After the discussion, members voted for the motion to renegotiate the whole contract once the current contract is finished.
The BMA had faced some criticism for its failure to act on a previous motion calling on it to poll the profession about formal industrial action as a result of the Government’s controversial access plans.
GPC chair Dr Farah Jameel said: ‘Three years ago general practice – as indeed the world – was a different place. For those of us working on the frontline, the pace and scale of demand we are experiencing every day, despite these being intense back in 2019, are now on a level we have never had to deal with before. As a result, every month we continue to haemorrhage GPs from the profession as evidenced with falling numbers of full-time equivalent GPs, which has a direct impact on the care patients can expect to receive.
‘So while the contract practices are currently bound to was agreed in good faith three years ago, it simply does not reflect the experiences and needs of GPs and their patients today.’
She added: ‘Going forward a “business as usual” approach simply will not work, and with new leadership of our committee, this provides an opportunity to renew, reset and renegotiate a contract that delivers for both the profession and patients, and that addresses the key issue impacting general practice today: retention of our workforce.’
However, Dr Zishan Syed, a GPC representative from Kent LMC, said: ‘The motion merely reaffirms what we expect of the GPC, particularly the GPC Executive team.
‘The profession won’t be satisfied by this alone as we desperately need a boost of funding into core contracts rather than the PCN DES. It’s a pandemic, old agreements need to be torn up and new ones made. If not now, when?
‘What the profession desperately needs is reassurance that the strong will it expressed over moving away from the PCN DES in successive conferences will be respected. This is in addition to having a contract fit for purpose with sufficient pay rise to match obscene inflation rates as well as moving away from the increasing drive for online appointments.
‘Practices are collapsing, we cannot wait a few years for vain in the air promises from NHS England. People’s livelihoods are at stake here.’
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.