Timetable for GP contract delayed

9 Jan 03
The government faces a further delay in its efforts to modernise the NHS after it emerged that the new GP contract will not be unveiled this week.

10 January 2003

Last July, family doctors voted in favour of a new General Medical Services contract that will reduce paperwork and include payment based on outcomes of treatment. Since then, the British Medical Association and the Department of Health have been negotiating the fine detail, including funding.

Ministers remain wary of the BMA since it backed the proposed new consultants' contract last November only for it to be thrown out by its members.

However, they are anxious to get the GPs' deal in place, which they hope will help meet the ambitious waiting times targets.

An announcement had been scheduled for January 10, to be followed immediately with a set of roadshows to explain the contract, and a ballot of all GPs in February.

However, this timetable has been scrapped because of delays in gathering information on current GP practices' incomes (including fees and reimbursements for staff costs). The BMA insists this is needed so GPs can compare their income with the deal on offer.

BMA GPs' leader John Chisholm said the contract would not now be published until February 21, with the ballot taking place in March.

But he warned there could be no further delays. 'Without agreement and implementation as soon as possible there is a very great risk that some areas will be without any GPs very soon,' he said.


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