Mixed welcome to GP contract rethink call

Source: Practice Index 18.4.23

GP leaders have given a mixed welcome to a major Government commissioned review of the primary care system.

Former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt has called for a reduction in targets and more flexibility for practices together with a total rethink of GP contracts. She said the NHS should focus more on outcomes rather than targets for waiting times. Her review was focused on the Integrated Care Systems, which currently oversee local NHS services. She also called for a switch in policy towards prevention of ill health.

The British Medical Association has rejected the current GP contract but said Ms Hewitt had offered “worryingly little detail” about how success would be defined. It also expressed concern about proposals for a “central fund” to buy out failing partnerships.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, acting chair of its GP committee in England, said: “Rather than improving community-based, holistic care, we’d worry that this would open the door to private companies strong-arming smaller practices into selling – destroying the continuity of care that they have built over many years. The BMA, GPs, and local medical committees must be central to any and all discussions about the future of general practice and the GP contract, not just ‘consulted’. Family doctors are central to the health and wellbeing of communities, and it would be a betrayal to patients not to use their invaluable insight to shape services.”

Ms Hewitt said: “Integrated Care Systems represent the best opportunity in a generation for the urgently needed transformation that we need in our health and care system. Everyone wants them to succeed.To fulfil their potential, however, we need not only to back our new structures, but also to change our culture. Everyone needs to change, and everyone needs to play their part.”

The government says it will be examining her recommendations “in due course”.

Aruna Garcea, chair of the NHS Confederation Primary Care Network, said:
“The recommendation to review primary care contracts is something our network has long been campaigning for. The review has recognised how current contracts stifle primary care’s ability to innovate and integrate and incentivises activity rather than outcomes. We welcome a review of supporting primary care to develop more agency and autonomy as partners in the integrated care systems. We are also encouraged to see a recognition of the value of the partnership model as well as opportunities for new models to develop that can help stabilise the primary care system in the long term.”

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