A new GP contract has been published by the NHS, including an increase in investment over the next year to encourage the healthcare body using digital tools in its practice.
The new contract outlines there will be a 3.4% increase in investment, totaling £256.2m. This will be put towards various projects over the next 12 months to encourage GPs to use digital more tools, in attempt of helping patients get quicker and easier access to specialists as well as family doctors.
Included in the investment is £60m to go towards helping GP practices cover the increased costs from indemnity inflation between 2017-2018. Additionally, a further £10m will be invested into practices to support full implementation of the e-RS to make it available at every GP practice by October 2018. This enables GPs and patients to identify hospitals with the shortest waiting lists and speeds up the process of booking the first consultant appointment for both GP and hospital.
Three major elements are highlighted within the contract. These include developing that Electronic Prescription Service (e-PS), the e-Referral Service (e-RS) and widening of piloting of NHS 111 for directly booking GP appointments.
NHS England will work with the British Medical Council’s GPs’ Committee to widen the piloting of NHS 111 for directly booking GP appointments at practices that want to participate. Furthermore, the NHS has decided to complete the roll-out of the e-PS, which makes it quicker and easier for patients to get their medicines by allowing prescriptions to be sent direct to pharmacist.
By autumn, all parts of the country are expected to offer evening and weekend GP appointments, in a bid to make it easier for patients to get an appointment’ an initiative NHS England and GP practices across the UK have been working on already. Local practices will work together to ensure this is available in each area.
“This new contract is positive news for patients and GPs, especially the focus on digital solutions. This will help GPs focus their time and resources on the areas that matter most to their patients,” Arvind Madan, NHS England director of primary care, said.
The new contract builds on the General Practice Forward View to improve patient care and access, and invest in new ways of providing primary care. The 2018/19 GP Contract, agreed by NHS England, the government and the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee, will come into force on 1 April 2018.