Headlines: October 5th, 2001

The NHS Confederation, the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee and Health Departments throughout the UK have agreed the principles that will inform the negotiation of the new contract for the UK’s GPs.Doctors have long seen a new contract as a method of limiting the hours and paperwork currently required of them. The Government sees a new contract as a way of levering flexibility and control into an old arrangement that effectively means each GP practice is a privately-controlled business.

Failure to reach agreement so far on even the terms of reference for the new contract have led GPs to threaten to resign from the service en masse. The introduction of the NHS Confederation as broker appears to have led to progress.

The new deal will ‘recognise appropriately GPs’ contributions to health and health care,’ address issues of recruitment and retention, and be flexible to suit local circumstances.

It will address workload issues and offer flexible employment options and opportunities for continuing professional development.

In return doctors will promise appropriate responsiveness to patients’ needs, recognise the roles of other members of the extended primary care team and promote a culture of clinical governance and service improvement.

The next step is for the NHS Confederation, the organisation that normally represents the interests of NHS trusts and primary care groups, to flesh out the detail in negotiations expected to take several more months.