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New GP contract deal: a game changer for primary care?

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l531 (Published 01 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l531
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

A landmark deal that will boost practices’ core income and incentivise them to work together in networks has been hailed as a turning point for general practice. Gareth Iacobucci looks at the detail

This week the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee and NHS England announced with much fanfare that they had agreed on a new contract deal for general practice in England, amounting to an extra £2.8bn over the next five years.1

The deal has been described by some as the most important change to the GP contract since 2004 and a potential “game changer” for practices that have been struggling to cope with an unsustainable workload, a shortage of GPs, high demand, and a decade of constrained funding.

The multifaceted agreement is significant for several reasons, not least because it spans five years rather than the traditional one year. This longer timeframe was enabled by the commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan, published last month,2 to boost investment in primary and community health services as a share of total NHS spend over the next five years.

GP leaders hope the extra certainty will stabilise and support practices under pressure and improve services for patients. The BMA has provided a summary of the changes online.3

Core practice funding and pay

The new deal will increase core practice funding by almost £1bn over the next five years. In 2019-20 practices in England will receive a 1.4% increase to core funding through the global sum. In the four years after this, global sum payments will continue to rise each year until 2023-24 in line with predicted inflation. The BMA said that this funding, when coupled with additional income to support practices’ participation in primary care networks (see below), will guarantee a minimum 2% uplift for GP and staff pay and expenses this year, …

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