For East and West Sussex LMCs
Dr Russell Brown
17th December 2015
The GPC held its latest meeting on 17th of December.
As ever, much of the contract negotiations information imparted to us is confidential. However it is worth noting that the NHS £3.8 billion increase announced in the comprehensive spending review has at least a proportion coming to general practice. Details of how this will be spent are as yet unclear. Colleagues may be aware that already £1.8 billion has been ear marked to essentially bailout acute trust deficits.
Scotland on the other hand have concluded their negotiations with QOF moving into core payments in 2017. Indeed there is much that could be admired and indeed emulated in the Scottish agreement.
A survey undertaken by the BMA on the primary-care infrastructure fund found that the situation is fraught with delays and threats even to funding approved schemes. There seems to be some difficulty with NHS England realising that they need to be funding revenue costs going forward rather than simply providing a pot of money at the outset
Indemnity costs have been considered but seemingly only superficially: £2 million has been ear marked by NHS England to help offset the costs of working in an out of hours setting this winter. It is unclear how this will be allocated presently but no doubt that will occur seamlessly and with an elegant simplicity. This obviously won't help in the longer term.
A Multi-specialty Community Provider contract advisory group has been set up. This is not to design a new GP contract but rather to try and properly formulate the environment in which MCPs will work. The presence of the GPC on this group has been moderately effective in emphasising the need for how any contracts will affect primary care to be addressed. The group does not appear to be hostile to general practice.
The atrocious comments written by Professor Steve field in the Daily Mail has resulted in a vote of no confidence by GPC. I have no doubt that, satisfying as it is, absolutely nothing will happen as a result. I understand the Royal College also posted a highly critical response. Quite how he thought this would improve the standing of CQC in the profession's eyes is beyond me.
The Special Conference of Local Medical Committees will occur on 30 January. By the time you read this motions will already have to have been submitted by the LMC. We will see what the agenda committee make of everything but I anticipate that there will be half a dozen themed debates during the day.
In the afternoon there was a presentation by Dr Arvind Madan, the new Director of Primary Care at NHS England. His previous work experience includes being a partner in the Hurley group and being an owner of WebMD. I understand his conflicts-of-interest have been appropriately managed since his appointment in the Department of Health. The presentation was apparently confidential though nothing was said that is not already in the public domain. Given there is a degree of agreement between NHS England and GPC, there was no surprise that much of what he spoke about was to do with workforce and workload. After his presentation there was a question and answer session during which the inestimable Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer from Hertfordshire was extremely clear with him exactly what we all thought. Unaccountably, he was not at the traditional post-December GPC mince pies and mulled wine event.
During the afternoon 4.2% increase in funding for general practice each year for the next few years was announced by NHS England via Pulse Today. Although this has been trumpeted as something of an improvement it actually simply allows us to standstill at current levels of funding taking inflation into account.
The current edition of the official GPC news is available at the BMA communities website here.
Other than that I hope you all have a peaceful and satisfying festive season, however you choose to celebrate it. All of us will be working for at least some of the time over the Christmas period, at a time when many of our patients will no doubt be grateful for our presents (sorry, that was appalling). I am keeping my fingers crossed for an improved 2016!
The next GPC meeting is scheduled for February.
I hope you have found this report helpful. Please feedback so that I can ensure my reports are useful.
Dr Russell Brown