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It’s a year since ministers answered our call to ease the crisis in general practice with their GPFV (GP Forward View).
The BMA GPs committee’s Urgent Prescription for General Practice had warned of practices buckling under unmanageable demand, a shrinking workforce, and the major funding shortfall. We demanded that NHS England act on the prescription to secure the immediate sustainability of general practice.
In response, the GPFV, released last April, pledged to meet several of your prescription’s demands.
While it won’t go far enough, GPC has been clear that the GPFV pledge and its extra resources should be rolled out and received in full – in a way useful to the practices it aims to sustain, and for the benefit of general practice.
The GPFV commits £2.4 billion recurrent funding by 2021 and a £508 million ‘sustainability and transformation’ package over five years.
This extra funding won’t solve the overall crisis in general practice, while the wider NHS remains underfunded and threatened by cuts. But it should begin to help general practice, as the promised funding packages and support find their way to our surgeries.
GPC has been a key player, in ensuring that NHS England sticks to last year’s commitments.
We’ve kept tabs on its delivery and implementation, helped by the vital feedback from LMCs. We’ve set up a dedicated LMC GPFV reference group, representing all regions in England, which meets with NHS England. We raise concerns regularly with top level officials on behalf of LMCs and individual practices across England.
For instance, we’ve been checking the delivery of the resilience and vulnerable practice fund and the vulnerable practice fund, which aim to help struggling practices to become more resilient and sustainable.
NHS England is said to have spent just £21 million of the £26 million allotted to these funds so far; the rest had been due to be spent by the end of April.
So, GPC has written to NHS England calling for immediate action, demanding that any underspend from these funds be protected and retained for practices.
We have also raised concerns with NHS England at the highest level that CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) under financial pressure may not be able to provide the committed transformational support for general practice due before April 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Such support is designed to stimulate collaborative working arrangements for improved access, implementation of 10 high impact actions to free up GP time, and secure sustainability of general practice. NHS England must enable CCGs to provide this transformational funding as a new additional resource.
We must remember that many commitments in the GPFV have yet to be implemented: it’s a five-year phased programme, running until 2021. Things are starting to happen and support is making its way to practices. While it’s too early to understand fully the impact this support is having on the ground, we will continue to monitor how the GPFV is delivered over the remaining four years of its run.
LMCs will be crucial to help us understand where support is and isn’t working. We will use this information to not only hold NHS England to account but also to share examples of where things are working well and help practices mirror success.
To find out more about what has been delivered in 2016/17 and what is coming up next in 2017/18 read our report on the GPFV – one year on.
Chandra Kanneganti is the BMA GPs committee policy lead for the GP Forward View
Good piece of writing.Thanks for updating Chandra. Well done!