A new £16m fund to help struggling GP practices has been launched, as part of a series of support packages announced by NHS England.
Support in the form of a four-year £40m resilience fund and a three-year £30m development programme, as well as measures to offset the costs of medical indemnities, were announced today by health service leaders.
The plans are part of a raft of proposals set out in the General Practice Forward View, aimed at addressing systemic staffing and financial pressures on GP practices in England.
The funding is designed to help those practices that are most struggling and will begin to be allocated to local teams from the end of the month.
BMA GP committee member Krishna Kasaraneni welcomed the timely release of funding, adding that it was encouraging that the Government was finally recognising the plight facing GPs.
He said: ‘This new resilience fund does expand the resources available to struggling practices and it appears to have learnt some of the lessons from last year’s failed vulnerable practice scheme, which was riddled with delay and bureaucracy.
‘This year a major BMA survey found that more than 300 practices across England believed they were no longer financially viable because of a combination of declining resources, rising patient demand and staff shortages. We face the serious prospect of whole areas of the country being left without local GP services to provide care to their communities.
‘It is encouraging that the Government is finally showing signs of recognising the immense pressures facing GP practices, which has left many on the brink of closure. We welcome the involvement of local medical committees in working with practices and NHS teams to ensure the necessary support is delivered where needed.’
The BMA has also welcomed advances made by the forward view to tackle the spiraling levels of indemnity costs faced by practices.
A two-year indemnity support scheme providing financial assistance to GP practices is set to be launched next April.
In response to the commitment, health secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted that helping GPs get to grips with the costs associated with negligence claims was crucial to providing the best level of care for patients.
The first phase of the three-year £30 million development programme, designed to give every practice in England the opportunity to receive training and development support, will also get under way.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said these latest announcements made under the forward view reiterated the health service’s commitment to addressing the challenges facing general practice both in the immediate and long term.
He said: ‘We meant it when we said we would take concrete action to help relieve pressure on GP practices, and today’s funding is just the first instalment. Practices need support, now, and a few weeks on from the GP Forward View we’re getting on with practical action to do so.’
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