Last reviewed 28 November 2013

GP contract changes for 2014 to 2015 have been agreed between the British Medical Association’s (BMA) general practitioners’ committee (GPC) and NHS England, directed by the Department of Health (DH). The BMA affirmed that GPs would now “have more time to spend on direct clinical care following major contractual changes to reduce bureaucracy and cut targets”.

Under the new contract, GPs will become the named accountable professional assigned to each patient aged 75 or older and be responsible for delivering a multidisciplinary care package that meets their needs together with relevant associated health and social care professionals, ensuring that they get all the treatment they need for physical and mental conditions.

Other GPs’ responsibilities will include offering patients same-day telephone consultations; giving paramedics, accident and emergency (A&E) doctors and care homes a dedicated telephone line to advise on treatment; regularly reviewing emergency admissions from care homes; and monitoring and reporting on the quality of out-of-hours care.

From October 2014 all GP practices in England will be able to register patients from outside their boundaries and the friends and family test will be introduced from December 2014, asking patients how likely they are to recommend a GP practice for similar treatment.

All GP practices will have to display the outcome of their Care Quality Commission inspection on the practice website and in their waiting rooms.

There will be a reduction of more than a third of the Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) for specific conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, with doctors now being able to use their judgment and make decisions based on what individual patients need. The current QOF funding for meeting the previous targets will be diverted into overall budgets and remaining enhanced services, such as the one for dementia, and a new enhanced service to reduce unnecessary emergency medicine admissions.

In terms of IT, by April 2014 practices will have online repeat prescription ordering and online appointment booking, and by 31 March 2015 they will have to provide an automated upload of their summary information to the summary care record, or have published plans in place to achieve this, and provide online access to the summary care records.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This is about fixing the long-term pressures on our A&E services, empowering hard-working doctors and improving care for those with the greatest need”.

There will be fairer pay and more transparency over earnings and performance. GPs’ seniority payments will be closed to new entrants from April 2014 and phased out by the end of March 2020, with savings made being reinvested back into general practice budgets. GPC chair Dr Nagpaul said this could affect GP retention but added that he was “pleased to have negotiated for these to remain in place for the next six years for those currently receiving them”.

From the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Clare Gerada said the changes would allow GPs to get back to providing care where it was most needed rather than more tick-boxing. She said she was “pleased that the Government and the BMA have been able to reach a solution that is workable for doctors and, most importantly, focuses our time on improving the care that our patients want and deserve”.

More information about the contract is available on the BMA website at: http://bma.org.uk.