An introduction to the new GP contract
With changes to the GP contract imminent, Justin Cumberlege, a healthcare specialist at law firm Cripps, looks at the highlights.
This year a number of changes to the GP contract have been announced, with most of them being implemented from 1 July 2017.
They do give GP practices a boost and it is not surprising that it was reported that the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee England voted overwhelmingly to accept the negotiated changes.
As an initial action, partnership deeds and locum cover insurance may need changing to take into account the more generous maternity and sickness cover reimbursement.
An increase in expenses will mean GPs receive an uplift of one per cent added to the global sum. Changes to the NHS pension scheme will see £3.8m put towards superannuation costs. A further £58.9m has been added to the contract to take into account the estimated cost of increased population growth.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) fees for 2017-18 will be fully reimbursed, and these will be paid direct by NHS England.
Completion of the workforce census is now a contractual requirement for every practice, and £1.5m has been added to the global sum for this.
Reimbursement for GP sickness cover is no longer a discretionary payment, but a practice entitlement. After a GP has been on sick leave for two weeks or more, the payment (to be increased to £1,734.18 per week) will be made on the receipt of an invoice. The practice can still claim this payment even if existing GPs cover the sick leave. Similar provisions apply in relation to maternity leave.
Non-UK patients issued with a European Health Insurance Card or S1 form, or those who may be subject to the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 will now be identified through a self-declaration process, with £5m being added to the global sum to cover the increase in associated administrative workload. To implement this, there will be a revised GMS1 form with the option for the patient’s self-declaration. However it is important to note the intention is that the patient’s country of origin will be charged, and not the patient themselves.
Avoiding Unplanned Admissions (AUA) Directed Enhanced Service (DES) will be scrapped. This will result in £156.7m added to the global sum. The BMA believes this will “reduce significant bureaucratic workloads” for practices.
Instead practices will be contractually required to identify and manage patients aged over 65 who are living with moderate to severe frailty. Practices will provide a clinical review for patients identified, to include an annual medication review and, where appropriate, discuss whether the patient has fallen in the last 12 months.
The GP retention scheme is also changing, with payments now permanently set at £76.92 a session. GPs can be on the scheme for five years, with an additional 24 months added in exceptional circumstances. It will be important to demonstrate the change of status of a GP if they are continuing at the practice.
If you have any questions about how the new contract will affect your practice, contact Justin Cumberlege on 01732 224107 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article first published in Practice Management magazie.