Headlines: January 21st, 2002

GPs play a vitally important role in the ten year NHS Plan and new contracts are due to start in April 2002. The British Medical Association has written to the UK’s 41,500 family doctors to assure them that negotiations are on course. It has warned that they must not expect the new contractual options to be in place from April, but that a package will be put to the profession with sufficient detail to enable members to make an informed decision as to whether the deal is acceptable. If the answer is “yes”, detailed pricing will be an essential pre-requisite to implementation and transition to the new contract.In a preview of what is likely to emerge the BMA explains that because general practice is changing rapidly a ‘one size fits all’ solution is not going to satisfy every one and any new contract must be sufficiently flexible to cater for that diversity. It is expected that there will no longer be a single contract but rather, a variety of contractual options. There will be new flexibilities for GPs with better control of workload and substantial rewards for those who provide their patients with high quality service to set the scene for decades of innovative and attractive practice.

Targets in the NHS Plan for 2004 involving GPs include: the recruitment of 2000 more GPs, refurbishment of 3,000 family doctors’ premises and the establishment of 500 one stop centers. GPs will also play a part in the project to set up an electronic record system by March 2005.