The government will introduce a new contract for large scale extended primary care providers, the prime minister announced today.

  • New contract will drive formation of large extended primary care providers and networks
  • Will be voluntary and open to practices covering at least 30,000 patients
  • Cameron also set milestones for seven day services in acute care

The move is intended to accelerate and support the development of “multispecialty community provider” type arrangements, based around GP patient lists, but serving large populations and providing a large range of extended primary care, community, diagnostic and outpatient type services.

David Cameron 2015

Source: Rex Features

David Cameron said the plan would help extend GP access outside office hours

It was billed by David Cameron, who announced the move in a TV interview this morning, as a way to help extend GP access outside office hours.

The new contract will be voluntary and open to large GP practices or federations, covering populations of at least 30,000, from 2017, the Conservative Party said. It will not include the GP quality and outcomes framework.

HSJ understands there is no expectation that all practices, or even the large majority, will move onto it, by the end of the Parliament.

However, NHS England is expected to consider how to incentivise practices to move onto it off of their existing general medical services, personal medical services or alternative provider medical services contracts.

One idea under consideration is using the mechanism to address the problem of high GP indemnity costs.

NHS England will work with GP representatives on the detail of the contract plans. The government plans for the first of the contracts to be active in April 2017.

HSJ understands that officials are also considering, for areas where the new contract is not taken up, how to incentivise other federation models.

The Conservative Party statement said: “The government has listened to GP leaders who say that the time has come for a new, voluntary contract option for general practice, integrated with community nurses and other health and care professionals, to provide more seamless, person centred care for patients.”

It said the “key principles of the new contract will be more money for primary care; more control for GPs over the way they work; more time to care for patients, and services seven days a week”.

It added: “The new contract will remove the bureaucratic box-ticking of Labour’s 2004 GP contract – freeing up GP time to provide the quality of care that they and their patients want.

“Micro-management of GPs’ work through the quality and outcomes framework and other sorts of old fashioned bureaucracy will be scrapped, giving doctors far greater professional control.”

It will also build on a report published today by the Primary Care Foundation and NHS Alliance about reducing bureaucracy in primary care.

The idea of a contract for large extended primary care providers and networks has been floated several times in recent years, including by the King’s Fund which last year called for the introduction of “family care networks”.

Plans for seven day working in acute care to continue

The prime minister also confirmed the government would press on with its aim of extending seven day working in acute care. The Conservatives said they would set milestones for achievement in the next government mandate to NHS England.

It will say a quarter of areas by population covered must meet key clinical standards - related to consultant review and diagnostics access - by 2017; half by 2018; and all by 2020.