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The waiting game

NHS England will fund new GP care home service and Covid absence locum cover

GP practices are set to receive financial support for staff absence cover due to Covid-19 as well as any extra staff needed to deliver care homes services, NHS England has announced.

Support is ‘anticipated’ to be available ‘retrospectively from a specified date in March 2020 up to end of June 2020 initially before review’, NHS England said.

NHS England announced ‘provisional’ details of the Covid support fund, which remains with the Treasury for sign off, as part of a webinar this evening.

Practices are ‘expected’ to be able to ‘seek approval in advance’ for reimbursement for ‘net additional capacity’ - such as extra staff required ‘as a result of care homes activity’ - NHS England said.

It said: ‘It is expected that practices would be able to seek approval in advance for support where the workload of the practice has increased during the outbreak and there is demonstrable need for net additional capacity from GPs or other staff that cannot be met through redeployment. 

‘For example, this may be required to support additional work involved as a result of care homes activity.’

Speaking in the webinar, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani added that the £120 per bed outlined in the network DES would not be brought forward to fund the work in care homes.

She reiterated that the ward rounds remain separate to the DES until it begins formally in October and added that it would have been ‘entirely inappropriate’ to bring the DES forward while practices are considering whether to sign up or opt out.

She said: ‘Any additional costs that are over and above what you are already doing - and it may well be - we will reimburse.’

Practices are also expected to be able to access financial support for absence cover from day one for GPs and practice staff who are off sick with Covid-19, NHS England said.

However, this is dependent on practices providing full sick pay for employees who are off sick with confirmed or suspected coronavirus and full pay for any staff who are shielding.

NHS England said the announcements are ‘provisional principles - with the caveat that they are subject to Government clearance and therefore may change’.

Details will be confirmed ‘shortly’ including reimbursement rates, it added.

Earlier this week, GP practices were given two weeks to set up a new service of weekly virtual ward rounds in care homes. Should it not happen, practices may face regulation to enforce it.

It comes as Pulse revealed that GP practices in some areas have been given a cash boost worth £1 per patient by their CCGs, to help cover the extra costs of managing the Covid-19 pandemic response.

The decisions were taken as details of the Covid support fund touted by NHS England was taking time to materialise, leaving GPs with uncertainty about cash flow.

Readers' comments (24)

  • Cobblers

    Monies are ‘provisional principles - with the caveat that they are subject to Government clearance.

    OK so when that's all done and agreed come back to us with the details AND the small print.

    Trust between us has long gone. Goodwill too.

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  • Absolutely Cobblers: see it and will believe it.

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  • Sounds like a primary school project and not fit for primary care. No details no time line no guarantees and no details as always. Well done NHSE. you will find practices lining up for this windfall. Thankyou.

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  • don't fall for it !!

    this is "more jam tomorrow". it's a trap ! work is unquantified, and unresourced, and no doubt there will be a clawback if you haven't done a plasma peanut level on every resident in the last ten days. do an extra HGV or PSV medical for the same money, guaranteed payment, no stress and no silly audits or form filling.

    it's a trap i tell you - a trap !!

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  • I'll beleive it when I see it and get the money. So far I have spent money for head sets for receptionists, webcams for clinicians, remote control control door bell for the front door ( which will not work because NHS wi fi is crap), personal scrubs and PPE because none available, excess locum fees because our associates are all, "self-shielding", locum fees to cover me (aged 69) to cover my sessions at the hot hub, time spent trying to get IT support to get our remote systerms workong, all while trying to look after patents who are terrified. So far picked up an acute Hep A and a probable Ca lung because associate swill not see patients in the flesh. SZpent 6 hours at our " hot hub" to see two anxious young women- one of whom turned up with her glamoroous mother in their Porsche concerned she might have a food allergy and another sent by her remote GP in Cambridge with a cough, no fever, no SOB or muscle pains etc. "to have her sats checked." Negative covid swab. For God's sake (wo)man up. I am hundreds of pounds out of pocket personally and just wonder if or when I shall ever get my costs back. I wonder why I bother continuing as a part time "semi - retired " GP when my younger, fitter , healthy associates cower at home with their various excuses to self-isolate.

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  • just say no--mif and lots of it

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  • So if you want me to do this what do you want me to stop doing? Because if you hadn't noticed there's been a recruitment crisis in General Pactice for the last decade and additional funding won't pay for doctors who don't exist.

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  • Great we will just pay our Locums the same IOUs Nikki has been promising us...

    Let’s see how many sessions they keep doing.

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  • It's not completely without positives. At least it's became new norm to consult remotely, they are talking about virtual rounds here. Given how much publicity crisis in care homes is receiving, I am grateful there hasn't been a directive to instruct us to attend there in person.
    And on topic of remuneration, to be fair, all NHSE are saying is- you go buy what you need, we will reimburse later. They have no way of knowing what each individual practice needs (to set up virtual consulting service). Some had all IT infrastructure before Covid, some did not.
    We, GPs, are burnt out and disillusioned, and a hard group to please, but on this topic- at least I see a glimmer of hope

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  • Cobblers

    Dr Tea 11:40am. Glimmer of hope?

    More like last spark of existence.

    Do you trust NHSE to reimburse you?

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