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GP contract: general practice reacts

by Hiba Mahamadi
1 February 2019

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Details of the new five-year GP contract were shared by NHS England yesterday.
Among other aspects, the contract comprises a £1bn investment across general practice over the next five years, including 22,000 new staff in exchange for practices working in networks; and funding to make 25% of GP appointments bookable online.

Practices have also been given £20m annual funding to deal with subject access requests while a new transparency drive will ask that GPs with annual salaries greater than £150,000 are publicly named.
Sue Jennings – practice manager at Teams Medical Practice, Gateshead 

‘I’m definitely in favour of practices forming networks. I think it’s very exciting that we will have the opportunity to work together with other colleagues in health and social care. I can’t see any disadvantages; it might be hard initially but a lot of us have already been moving in this direction.

‘I would also say that nearly 100% of our GP appointments are already booked online. What we struggle with is our online nursing appointments. Once we offered cervical screening tests for women online, but had all sorts booking in – men, ladies for blood tests. 

The patients either didn’t read the information or booked that appointment even though it wasn’t appropriate. And we have no control over this at the moment.’

‘As for naming […] GPs who earn more than £150,000, we already put information about what our GPs get paid on our website – we’ve been doing that for the last two to three years.’

Daniel Vincent – practice manager and managing partner Ryalls Park Medical Centre, Somerset 

‘I am delighted to see that primary care network funds will flow directly to those networks through the [directed enhanced service (DES)]. This demonstrates trust in those networks to deliver the work they feel is important to their populations. 

I look forward to receiving further clarity on indemnity arrangements in particular how much top up cover is going to cost. It will take a while to judge the overall impact of the deal on practice finances.’

Mairead Roche – advisory panel member, Practice Managers Association

‘The latest five-year plan will see a much welcomed investment in designing new roles for non-clinical staff. In particular, there’s a real emphasis on developing enhanced care navigator roles.

Trained staff will deliver social prescribing for those patients with complex needs who would benefit from care that emphasises social and self-care support, as well as traditional clinical input.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs

‘We welcome the focus on collaborative working with a range of highly-skilled members of the GP team, to support our work and free up our time to deliver care to patients who need our expertise – as well as with other practices in the same locality.

Primary care networks have been shown to be beneficial in terms of increased peer support, building resilience in the system and pooling resources.

General practice has been at a crossroads for several years: workload in general practice has escalated both in volume and complexity recently, yet the share of the NHS budget our service receives is less than it was a decade ago, and we have fewer GPs than we did two years ago.

We hope that today’s announcement of the new contract will meant that we can finally turn a corner towards making general practice sustainable for the future.’