Practice boundaries will remain under the new 2012/13 as the government’s plans to increase patient choice are introduced at a slower pace than expected.
Pay freezes will continue to bite as it is agreed that GPs will not receive a salary increase in line with other doctors.
However, negotiations between the BMA’s GPs’ Committee (GPC) and the NHS Employers organisation resulted in a 0.5% general practice funding increase to help practitioners cope with the rising cost of expenses.
In a letter to GPs, the BMA said this increase in funding will be delivered through an increase in the value of a Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) point.
The BMA have also agreed, in principle, that, subject to the successful passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, all GP practices in England “would be contractually required to be a member of a CCG.”
Practice boundaries will not be scrapped, it was announced, and instead an “outer boundary” will be created to allow patients to remain in their current practice, even after they have moved home.
The negotiating parties have also agreed on a one-year pilot involving “two or three cities in the trial area”, giving patients the freedom to choose to register at a general practice near where they work or elsewhere.
The BMA told MiP it will make the pilot guidance public as soon as it is known, but it is not expecting to do so “imminently”.
“Most GPs were against the complete abolition of practice boundaries because of the potential negative impact on the continuity of care, so we’re pleased that we have been able to agree this alternative, which will help commuters as well as patients who move out of a practice’s boundary but want to stay registered,” said Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the GPC.
“It is important to learn from the results of the pilot.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said the contract changes represent a “good deal” for GPs, patients and the NHS.
He claims the pilots testing enhanced parent choice will “allow us to test and evaluate the issues that the profession has expressed concerns about”.
The 2012/2013 GP contract will also see a series of changes to the QOF. Quality and productivity indicators will be cut by the end of March 2012 and be replaced by “a number of indicators” aiming to reduce the number of ‘avoidable’ A&E attendances.
It has also been agreed to extend the emergency admissions and referrals indicators for another year.
Two new disease areas, osteoporosis and peripheral aterial disease, will be introduced following recommendations from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The Extended Hours Access Directed Enhanced Service (DES) has also been extended for a further year under the new contract – all requirements and funding remains the same.