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CCGs told they must set up primary care networks by end of June

CCGs have been told to ensure that the new primary care networks, which all GP practices will be mandated to join, are in place by 30 June at the latest.

NHS England planning guidance for the year ahead said CCGs must commit to spending a recurrent £1.50 per head of population on ‘developing and maintaining’ the primary care networks.

The guidance, which comes as the Government’s long-awaited long-term plan pledged an extra £4.5bn investment in primary and community services earlier this week, also says CCGs have to ensure swift investment in this area.

The document said: ‘Building on the £3 per head CCG investment in primary care transformation during 2017/18 and 2018/19, we will be requiring CCGs to commit a recurrent £1.50 per head recurrently to developing and maintaining primary care networks so that the target of 100% coverage is achieved as soon as is possible and by 30 June 2019 at the latest.

It added that the investment 'needs to be provided in cash rather than in kind'.

The planning guidance said real-terms investment in primary and community services 'should grow faster than CCGs overall revenue growth', as set out in the long-term plan, and further guidelines will be issued showing how to measure this.

Sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs) must also include a primary care strategy, by April, as part of their overarching strategy to improve population health.

The strategies should include a primary care network development plan; and a local workforce plan for general practice, NHS England added.

In response, a BMA briefing said that while 'considerable time and resources will need to be directed towards planning to meet the requirements set out in this guidance', it 'remains to be seen if this will lead to tangible benfits for patients, doctors and staff'.

‘The guidance states that STPs must engage with CCGs and primary care providers as part of their planning – it is essential that this actually happens,' it added.

Earlier this week, the BMA told Pulse that GP practices in England can expect changes to their contract from April mandating them to join networks of 30-50,000 patients.

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said his advice to GP practices was to form networks before CCGs did it to them.

However, he added that some practices 'may need a little bit of a dragooning into a grouping'.

He said: 'The bottom line is that these groups of practices are going to have to work together. Because if they don’t, all this funding which is going to come down as part of the long-term plan just will not reach the practices.'

‘I think we are going to have to realise that we are going to be working in larger groupings now whether we like it or not, and make the best of it rather than trying to fight against it.'

GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'LMCs should work with their CCGs to ensure common sense prevails in these developments, and to support practices to work out what is the best fit for their area. 

'The intention is to focus services around local communities and the therefore the practices that are within them.'

Speaking to Pulse in an exclusive interview earlier this week, health secretary Matt Hancock said primary care networks will support GPs to be spend more time on 'what they are trained to do'.

Meanwhile, NHS England claimed that a pilot primary care network set up with GP practices in Luton saved 3,000 appointments and £50,000, while also improving patient satisfaction. 

Readers' comments (9)

  • Railroaded to the slaughter house in big groups.

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  • you will have no identity you will just be a number

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  • Independent Contractors? Give me a break. At some point we have to escape this increasingly pathetic delusion.


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  • Just Your Average Joe

    First get enough doctors into the system to allow it to run smoothly.

    New medical students will take 10 years to reach the front line, and yes there was a small increase, but the numbers needed don't match those being trained.

    Nor does it cover those training and leaving, and the large numbers choosing to work part time.

    Stop finding even more ways to take GP's away from front line patient work.

    Rearranging deck chairs on the titanic sounds about right for most other plans which don't address workforce/workload issues.

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  • Compelling people who do not like, trust or respect each other and have quite different ideas about the nature of the job to work together does not sound like a recipe for success.

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  • Primary care has 're-organised' itself on many occasions over the years but still the demise of 'General Practice' continues. What was once a prestigious, well paid and respected job has become anything but. In addition one alarming statistic cannot be ignored; less than one in three GP's work full time! NHS long term plan, is the General Practitioners countdown clock.

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  • Great idea to spend lots of much-needed NHS money on lots of not-needed things.

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  • Good news for the prawn sandwich industry

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  • Practices work well because the GP's invest their efforts + time for the benefit of our patients

    how much time will need to be spent to coordinate care with neighbouring GP practices?

    GPs are already stretched to breaking point without having to coordinate care with neighbouring GP's. This needs proper funding & managerial support to even get itself off the ground.

    whilst 'working at scale' sounds like a good idea you lose the essence of General Practice and create more 'large scale' problems instead

    Where is the evidence base for this being a good use of money???


    we simply need more clinical staff on the ground, increased funding for general practice to allow better maintenance and improvement of our premises / equipment and better remuneration to allow for recruitment and retention.

    Oh yes - and some seniority pay / recognition

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