PCN service specification and GP contract update

The BMA has voted against a contract agreement with NHS England for a GP contract following criticism of the service specifications for PCNs outlining what is expected of Primary Care Networks (PCN)s over the next four years.

Members of the committee, who met on Thursday 16 January, were presented with a package of changes but voted against accepting them. GPC England will now return to negotiations with NHS England.

Details of the package remain confidential.

A separate motion at the GPC committee condemned the original draft service specifications, put forward by NHS England and NHS Improvement in December, and called for a Special Conference of English LMCs (Local Medical Committees) to allow GP representatives from across the country to debate and consider the outcome of contract negotiations.

Since the specifications were released for consultation at the end of December, the feedback from GPs, PCNs, LMCs, and many local and national organisations was overwhelmingly negative, with practices concerned at the levels of workload involved, especially for those networks that were struggling to recruit additional staff.

GPs said the initial service specifications were ‘too rigid’ and were ‘overloaded’ and called for NHS England to provide more targets for areas such as social prescribing, IT and personalised health budgets. See article here. A BMA survey of clinical directors released this week found that whilst PCNs could make a positive difference with the right resources time and practical support they were being hampered by workload constraints.

BMA GP committee England chair Dr Richard Vautrey said:

The message from GPs in recent weeks has been a clear one: proposals put forward by NHS England and NHS Improvement before Christmas have clearly been judged by the profession as unreasonable, and completely unachievable.

“At a time when demand and workload for practices are unprecedented, GPs working on the front line felt these draft specifications piled on more pressure and would undermine primary care networks that were only just getting off the ground.

“This overload would therefore put in jeopardy all of the good work and progress PCNs have already made for the good of both staff and patients.

 “This is therefore not the end of the process, we have a clear mandate from our colleagues, to negotiate a deal that truly benefits and safeguards general practice, family doctors and their patients.”

For the full BMA statement go here.

Adrian BrooksPCN service specification and GP contract update