Last reviewed 26 January 2021

This year’s updates to the GP contract, released by the British Medical Association (BMA), include minimal updates to give practices support and stability through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BMA said minimal changes will be made from 1 April 2021, including delays to previously agreed elements, and funding commitments already made will be honoured, such as the GP contract uplifts, IIF and ARRS uplifts.

The changes will be to assist with the pandemic and its impact, and the arrangements will remain under review depending on the progression of the pandemic and the progress of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Further changes will be agreed between NHS England and the BMA General Practitioners Committee (GPC) England in the year.

The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) will be based on the indicator set from 2020/2021, with limited changes. Seven new indicators will be added to QOF. These involve four indicators for a new domain covering vaccinations and immunisations, transferring “almost £60 million” from the Childhood Immunisations directed and enhanced service (DES) to QOF, the BMA said. These include a new domain focusing on childhood immunisations and shingles vaccinations for older people.

Two other indicators will be on serious mental illness and on cancer. Further QOF funding will also support physical health checks for patients with serious mental illness, with £24 million transferred from mental health funding and two new indicators from April.

Remote working when clinically necessary will still be an acceptable way of delivering QOF reviews.

A new obesity and weight management service, and associated funding will be considered, with an aim to bring in the measures during 2021/22.

The BMA said no new Quality Improvement modules will be introduced in 2021/22 as the pandemic has "required a rethink to the timetable”. However, modules on Learning Disabilities and Supporting Early Cancer Diagnosis, currently income protected, are "too important not to be completed in full". They will be repeated for 2021/22 in their original format, with some slight modifications to account for the impact of the pandemic on care.

Other changes from April include the cervical screening additional service becoming an essential service; patient consent for electronic repeat dispensing will not be required on a permanent basis after removal during the pandemic; and "more timely" transfer of records for patients who move between practices will become a contractual requirement.

NHS England will collect data on practice staff terms and conditions to inform guidance and explore how to make gender pay gap information more transparent in 2021/22.

The transfer of clinical pharmacists to primary care networks (PCNs) from the Clinical Pharmacist in General Practice scheme will be permitted from 1 April to 30 September 2021.

There will also be minor updates to the PCN DES “Structured Medication Review and Early Cancer Diagnosis” services.

The BMA’s GP Contract Agreement England 2021/2022 is available at https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/contracts/gp-contract/gp-contract-england-202122