Further investment in Welsh general practice  has been promised  following negotiations for the 2019-20 General Medical Services (GMS) contract – which is worth over £536.6m. Additional funding will also be made available this year to cover the rising costs of pensions, following changes made by the UK government according to the press released from the Welsh Government.

The funding will mean an increase per patient in Wales from the current contract, from £86.75 to £90. The new value per patient is also more than offered in England.

The contract reforms the way in which services operate with a much stronger emphasis placed on clusters working together to plan and deliver services locally to enable patients to access care at or close to home – one of the key aims of A Healthier Wales.

As part of the additional £25m the GMS contract for 2019-20 will deliver:

An uplift of 3% to the general expenses element of the contract for general expenses.

Investment of £9.2 million for the implementation of the Access to In-hours GP Services Standards published on 20 March 2019.

A further £3.765 million going into Global Sum this year, to fund the infrastructure needs of practices in working towards achievement of the in hours access standards.

An investment of up to £5 million will be made available to incentivise partnership working as the preferred model for GMS and to encourage new GPs to take up partner roles though the introduction of a new Partnership Premium available to all GP partners regardless of length of service.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething, said:

Over the last 18 months we have continued with our ambitious programme of reform to the GMS contract. I acknowledge that negotiations have taken longer than preferred, but this reinforces our commitment to fully engage with the Health Service and General Practitioners Committee on contract reform – with Wales being the only nation in the UK to fully engage the Health Service in this way.

This agreement provides an additional boost to GMS services and once again represents a better deal than that being offered in England. The new contract delivers the much needed investment into services to improve sustainability and to meet the aims set out in a Healthier Wales, including an increased focus on cluster working and seamless provision of services.”

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the BMA’s Welsh GPs committee said:

I am pleased that GPC Wales and the Welsh Government have been able to reach an agreement for hardworking GPs across Wales.

The introduction of the partnership premium, an increase in the Global Sum and the additional funding to address the rising costs of employer pension contributions, are a clear commitment by the Welsh Government that they intend to secure the independent contractor model for GPs into the future.

The move to addressing last person standing issues will also ensure that those who have dedicated their careers to improving the health and wellbeing of the communities of Wales do not face the risk of bankruptcy.

This contract will provide reassurance for GPs and ensure that patients continue to receive services in the community and as close to home as possible.

Judith Paget, Chief Executive of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said:

I welcome this agreement which has been reached between the General Practice Committee, Welsh Government and the Health Boards in Wales.

The changes to the GP contract and the additional investment will underpin the sustainability of local GP services, which we know patients value so much. We look forward to supporting the local implementation of this agreement so that patients, GPs and the wider community will benefit from the improvement in both the quality of services and the access to services that this agreement supports.

Alongside the financial changes, a number of other commitments have been agreed as part of the reformed contract. Including:

A stronger emphasis on cluster working to plan and deliver local services with improved cluster planning, engagement and activity indicators and a shift of some activity to delivery at cluster level

A streamlined Quality Assurance and Improvement Framework (QAIF) with a focus on Quality Improvement activity.

An agreed scope of the approach LHBs will take in providing support to our most vulnerable GPs who find themselves at risk due to Last Person Standing issues.

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