Wales

GP contract deal removes 'treadmill of bureaucracy'

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Media captionMr Drakeford insists patients will find it easier to get appointments

Changes to the way GPs are paid will allow them to spend more time with patients, says the health minister.

Mark Drakeford claims a new contract negotiated with doctors' leaders removes a "treadmill of bureaucracy".

The money GP surgeries received until now depended on how they performed against 969 different measures.

Under the new contract 300 measures will be cut, reducing form filling to free more time with patients, says the British Medical Association (BMA).

There will also be new financial incentives to encourage surgeries located close to each other to work together.

The new contract also aims to provide better care for people with early-stage cancer, for those at the end of their lives or the frail or elderly.

'Tick-boxing'

The Welsh government says the changes should also help reduce the pressure on hospital A&E departments.

Charlotte Jones, chair of the BMA's Welsh GP committee, said the contract has "removed some of the bureaucratic tick-boxing type of medicine and targets that we've had to provide".

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, she said doctors will be able to return to "looking after the individual patient, which will then mean that there will be more capacity within general practice surgeries to provide more care for the patients".

"The whole [GP] practice team will see the benefits of this which should increase additional capacity because, as we know, GP practices are under enormous strain like the emergency departments are at this current time.

"We do hope that the feedback from patients will be that they have seen the positive effects of it as well as the GPs going back to being able to manage the individual and not chasing targets."

However the deal, which comes into effect in April, will not lead to weekend surgeries or more out-of-hours opening.

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Media captionUnder the new contract 300 measures will be cut, reducing form filling to free more time with patients

But Mr Drakeford insists patients will find it easier to get appointments with reduced red tape.

Highlighting the 19m appointments made with GPs last year in Wales, he said: "So actually patients are seeing GPs in huge numbers but sometimes you do wait.

"In some ways the opening hours issue is a bit of a distraction to the more fundamental question of how people get to see their GPs when they need to."

He said the deal would not mean GPs getting more money.

In 2011/12 the average salary in Wales for a GP responsible for running a practice was £92,300, while the average pay for a family doctor employed by the surgery stood at £55,000.

"The global sum, the total amount of money, remains the same," he added.

"It's just that what people get paid for and how they get paid has been re-negotiated to allow us to modernise the contract and to prioritise those things which we know really matter to patients."

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