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£16m fund for vulnerable practices released this week

NHS England has announced that £16 million of the fund designed to support vulnerable practices will be available this week.

Local area teams will receive the funding this week to offer practices at risk of closure access to support with management, staffing (for example skill mix) and IT.

Practices will also no longer have to match funding from NHS England, as Pulse recently reported.

A year-long £10m vulnerable practices fund began in December 2015, and the GP Forward View promised an extra £40m ‘resilience’ fund for vulnerable practice, with £16m available this year.

According to NHS England board papers, the ‘menu of support’ available from the general practice resilience programme will include:

  • ‘rapid intervention and management support for practices at risk of closure;
  • coordinated support to help practices struggling with workforce issues, such as access to experienced clinical capacity or to develop skill mix;
  • change management and improvement support to individual practices or groups of practices, and
  • no longer require matching funds from affected practices.’

Different areas of the country will be allocated differing shares of the fund, with the most (£1,554,000) going to Yorkshire and the Humber.

GP leaders have been critical of the slow start in getting the money to vulnerable practices, with one practice closed down by the CQC while waiting for vulnerable practice support, and while the BMA has welcomed the announcement they will be ‘scrutinising’ the detail.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s workforce, education and training subcommittee, said: ‘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.’

‘This new resilience fund does significantly 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.

'However, we will be scrutinising the detail of this proposal as it is vital that the funding is provided in a flexible manner and is streamlined to avoid an exhausting bidding process. We also must ensure that practices are comfortable in seeking support, and do not fear reprisal from breach of notice orders, which would perversely deter those that most need assistance.'

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive 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.’

Dr. Arvind Madan, a GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, said: ‘Three months on from the launch of the General Practice Forward View, we’re now getting on with implementing these plans. We understand the pressure on GP practices and today’s announcement shows how we’re getting on with immediate practical steps to deliver GPs much-needed support.’

Local team£16m share (2016/17)£8m share (2018 - indicative)
North West London £626,000 £323,000
Cheshire and Merseyside £716,000 £358,000
Wessex £790,000 £395,000
Cumbria and North East £904,000 £452,000
South West £916,000 £458,000
South London £970,000 £485,000
North East London £1,004,000 £502,000
North Midlands £1,032,000 £516,000
South Central £1,054,000 £527,000
West Midlands £1,230,000 £615,000
East region £1,238,000 £619,000
Lancashire (share of) £1,250,000 £625,000
Greater Manchester (share of) £1,250,000 £625,000
South East £1,316,000 £658,000
Central Midlands £1,338,000 £669,000
Yorkshire and the Humber £1,594,000 £797,000

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