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GP contract funding offer in Wales could be withdrawn to offset other deficits, practices warned

by Anna Colivicchi
10 November 2023

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The finanical offer made by the Welsh Government in relation to the GP contract could be withdrawn to ‘offset other NHS Wales financial deficits’, the BMA has been told.  

Contract negotiations between the GP Committee Wales, the Welsh Government and NHS Wales ended without resolution last month.

At the time, GPC Wales chair Dr Gareth Oelmann wrote a letter to GPs across the country explaining that ‘no credible financial offer’ was put on the table and ‘no tangible mitigations’ were offered during the negotiations for this year’s contract.

Now the BMA has published a document summarising details around the negotiations.

The document said that the ‘offer on the table’ announced by health minister Eluned Morgan centred around a ‘5% GP pay award’ and a ‘5% staff pay uplift’.

The BMA said: ‘We have been unable to agree with Welsh Government and NHS Wales what we consider an adequate GMS contract deal for this current year.

‘The financial settlement on offer from Welsh Government did not match our reasonable expectation of an uplift to the contract value that would help to counter the damaging impact of soaring inflation on practice costs and staffing expenses.’

It added that, in addition, the offer does ‘match the 6% increase in wages that is recommended to all UK salaried GPs from the DDRB recommendation’, neither does it cover ‘unavoidable increases in staff pay’ due to the National Living Wage increases in 2023/24.

It added: ‘The proposed 5% award is sub-inflationary and indeed below the 6% recommendation of the independent DDRB pay review body for doctors.

‘Without an appropriate uplift for both staff pay rises and rising general expenses, any GP pay uplift is immediately eroded as contractors will need to fund the shortfall directly. Any realistic GP pay award is therefore diminished.’

The document went on to point out that Ms Morgan ‘suggested the possibility of the current financial offer being withdrawn to offset other NHS Wales financial deficits’.

The BMA added: ‘We are clear that this move would be devastating for general practices in Wales and could trigger an exodus of GPs from the profession. Above all this would be actively damaging to patient care in Wales.’

In addition, GPC Wales warned the contract could be forced upon surgeries and that while this action had never been taken by the Welsh Government before, ‘there is precedent in other parts of the UK’.

However, it added that they still hoped ‘a realistic contract uplift can be negotiated.’

‘GPC Wales remains open to discussion with Welsh Government should they have a credible new proposal that provides security and sustainability for practices and patients alike. Inaction is not an option if general practice in Wales is to survive,’ the document said.

A Welsh Government spokesperson told our sister publication Pulse: ‘Despite the incredibly challenging financial situation, we have made an offer to support general practices across Wales with a comparable pay offer to the rest of the NHS.

‘That said, given the pressures facing NHS Wales there are other calls on uncommitted funding. We are keen therefore to see this money invested in GPs and their hardworking teams as soon as possible.’