Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, has announced a new contract agreement with GPs in Wales, which will deliver the most significant reform of the contract since 2004.
It includes a new pay deal for all staff working in general practice and plans to reduce the administrative burden for GPs, enabling them to focus on providing high-quality care in contract arrangements from 2023.
Recognising the vital role of GPs and their teams, the agreement for this year includes a 4.5% pay uplift for GPs as recommended by the Doctors and Dentist Review Body, and goes further to ensure all staff working within general practice also receive the same 4.5% pay uplift.
From April 2023, access standards, which practices have been working towards since 2019, will become mandatory to achieve and maintain as part of the GMS contract. This will help make it easier for people to access GP appointments across Wales and they will know what to expect when they contact their GP practice.
The new Unified Contract, will be consulted on in spring 2023 and implemented from autumn 2023. This will streamline and simplify current arrangements to ensure GPs and their teams are able to focus on delivering services to patients.
Welsh Government, GPC Wales and NHS Wales have committed to undertake further joint work, to pursue further changes and improvements in a number of key areas including the sustainability of the workforce and the service.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:
GPs and their staff have worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing pressure, to meet the needs of their patients. They have remained agile and responsive in these challenging times, and this agreement and investment acknowledges that commitment to delivering services to patients.
We recognise that more still needs to be done to improve access to GP surgeries and this new contract will go some way in addressing that. However, there have continued to be challenges faced by some people in accessing their GP practice which need to be resolved and we will ensure we continue to pursue improvement.
As we move forward, a new simplified and streamlined contract will not only remove unnecessary bureaucracy for GPs and their teams but will also reinforce the standards by which we expect GP practices to operate – with patient access an integral part of those standards.
In April next year, I will set out more detail on how this new contract will work.
Nicola Prygodzicz, Chief Executive, Aneurin Bevan Health Board said:
We are pleased to see this agreement, reached through a collaborative round of tripartite negotiations, which recognises the hard work and dedication of all staff working within general practice.
The scale of change being sought is ambitious and is testament to the commitment of all parties to reduce bureaucracy and improve services for people in Wales. The wider agreements, including the joint commitments to take forward work in key areas, will enable us to continue to work closely with the profession and our stakeholders to support the sustainability of the service in the longer term.
Dr Gareth Oelmann, Chair of GPC Wales said:
This contractual agreement is firmly rooted in providing patients with access to services based on clinical need, with an increased emphasis on preventative health measures.
We have fought hard to ensure the best deal possible for GP practices in Wales in the current climate. The restructured contractual payment mechanisms, whilst providing simplification and decreased box ticking bureaucracy, will create security of income streams for practices, at a time when the viability of many has been brought into question.
We are additionally pleased that as a consequence of this deal, our hard-working practice staff are able to receive a pay uplift.
We look forward to delivering further change and improvements for GPs and patients in Wales in 2023.