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The waiting game

Health minister claims PCN service specification ‘will reduce GP workload’

Service specifications for the new primary care networks (PCNs) will 'reduce workload pressures on GPs', the primary care minister has claimed.

Health minister Jo Churchill said that the additional roles attached to networks would alleviate workload for primary care. However Pulse yesterday revealed that PCNs were struggling to recruit additional staff.

Her comments come as the BMA's GP Committee is meeting today to vote on the 2020/21 GP contract, including amendments to the PCN network specifications.

The first draft of the specifications, released on 23 December, faced backlash from the profession after it revealed new tasks for GPs, including fortnightly care home visits.

Last week, NHS England admitted that it would have to ‘significantly’ redesign the PCN service proposals after over 4,000 GPs voiced concerns over the networks’ ability to deliver the specifications.

However, responding to a written question from an MP last week, Ms Churchill said: ‘NHS England and NHS Improvement have assessed that the PCN draft outline service specifications and Network Contract DES will reduce workload pressures on general practitioners and support improved primary care services to patients.

‘This will be through a combination of the additional workforce capacity which is being created within primary care, and the redesign of community services provision to link with and support PCNs.’

Ms Churchill added that NHS England will take a deal on the 2020/21 GP contract, which includes the PCN service specifications, to the Government for sign-off ‘shortly’.

Conservative MP for Bosworth and GP Dr Luke Evans had asked health secretary Matt Hancock ‘what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the PCN draft outline service specifications and primary care enhanced services on the workload of GPs.’

It comes as an investigation by Pulse revealed that PCNs have struggled to hire additional staff to carry out the new tasks. The investigation found that only around half of PCNs recruited clinical pharmacists last year, with a similar proportion having managed to hire social prescribers.

Last month, the BMA reassured GPs that concerns about the network draft service specifications were being heard ‘loud and clear’ and that these would form the ‘basis’ of its contract negotiations with NHS England.

A number of LMCs have advised practices not to sign the network DES contract as it stands and a recent Pulse survey revealed that 80% of GP partners will pull out of the network DES contract if proposals go ahead.

Meanwhile, Matt Hancock said last week that he wants to ensure ‘value for money’ from PCNs as part of the ongoing contract negotiations with the BMA.

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  • jo churchill online

Readers' comments (33)

  • NO it will not,unfunded DESs needing a lot of extra work, more noctors which will pass on risk and work to the GP which we have to take a funding cut to fund , uncosted un-resource,non evidence based claptrap an BS.Say no, another idiot pi88ing on our trousers and telling us its raining.

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  • meanwhile on planet earth those of us who still work at the coal face struggle manfully!

    Where do these people crawl out from???

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  • EMIS is down nationally - can just about manage FTF assuming its simple and results / letters not needed. She might tell Matt that IT does not work reliably, but no why listen to us?

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  • David Banner

    They’re not listening.
    Anyone surprised?
    Now do GPs have the nerve to resign from PCNs en masse?
    DITCH THE DES!!

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  • Hahahahahahahahahaha, of course it will Jo. That extra 1 Pharmacist / 1 social thingy and one physio across 11 practices and 65,000 patients of my network, plus your fantasticnew Des's are going to help enormously...to drive more of us into leaving early.

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  • Attenuated Seniority about to go- end of financial year coming.
    A whole lot more head for the exit.....

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  • Laughable

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  • My workload will indeed reduce because I either will follow one of three options: leave the profession; revert to core services; retire as a direct result of the imposition of PCN's.

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  • Hopefully Jo will bring some of her experience running a scaffolding company to bear on NHSE. Lets face it, the whole edifice is crumbling

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  • Even if they significantly change the DES, we have seen where their plan for primary care is heading. Dump unrealistic and underfunded demands onto PCNs and then blame us when it all goes wrong.

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