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Almost 2,000 vulnerable practices to 'benefit from funding by end of March'

NHS England is planning for a further 1,000 GP practices to benefit from its funding to support vulnerable practices by the end of March, in addition to 900 practices that have already been given help, its GP lead revealed today.

Its director of primary care, Dr Arvind Madan, said that 1,000 practices will benefit from the £16m committed by NHS England this year from its £40m 'Practice Resilience Programme' announced in the GP Forward View in April.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum conference on the future of general practice in London today, he added that some 900 practices will have been helped by last year's similar scheme, the £10m Vulnerable Practices Fund, by the end of this month.

Dr Madan said it was a 'tragedy when a GP practice fails, and reiterated his acknowledgement that NHS England did not get the Vulnerable Practices Fund 'out the door quick enough', but said he thinks 'that is starting to change'.

Pulse revealed two weeks ago that the Vulnerable Practices Fund was underspent by more than half, with just £4m spent.

But today, Dr Madan said that had risen to about £4.8m, and NHS England is still hoping to have spent it all by the New Year.

He said: 'I think it is something like £4.8m is now spent, with the ambition that the rest of the £10m in the Vulnerable Practices scheme being spent by the end of this calendar year.

'And the first £16m of the £40m Practice Resilience Programme, with similar criteria, starting to affect over 1,000 other practices by the end of this financial year, with further waves of funding to support that in the next three years.’

At the same conference, Dr Madan attempted to reassure GP leaders who voiced concern that any 'transformation' funding from the centre would not reach GP practices.

According to Dr Madan, NHS England will not approve 'sustainability and transformation plans' - the local blueprints for the future of the NHS - to be taken forward unless they pledge '15-20%' of funding towards general practice.

He said: 'What we have tried to do in the primary care team is to create some clarity around the financial expectations pointed at primary care in order to deliver the GP Forward View, from anything that might be a locally funded strand of the opportunity. 

'And what we are saying is 15-20% of the STP fund we are expecting to see pointed to primary care, and that will be one of our assessments of whether we think it passes must.'

This was the strongest assertion yet that NHS England will force STP leaders to make general practice financially sustainable, and comes after two councils this week blocked their STP proposals because not enough was committed towards primary care.

Previously, NHS England had said it would not 'agree' to any plan 'unless it explicitly demonstrates how local GPs will be supported, and how the GP Forward View will be implemented in their area'.

But the commitments come as Pulse revealed this week that at least 16,000 patients will be losing their GP practice over the holiday period, and that six in ten GPs say morale has deteriorated since the publication of the GP Forward View.

What is the Practice Resilience Programme?

NHS England is putting £40m into the GP resilience programme over the next four years. In 2016/17 there is £16m available, with £8m in the years afterwards.

Different regions will get different levels of funding, with Yorkshire and the Humber receiving the most money (£1,593,913 in 2016/17) and North West London the least (£626,000 in 2016/17).

Practices will need to show ‘matched commitment’ to the programme, by having an agreed action plan containing ‘clear milestones for exiting support’. Practices will not need to match funding although they ‘will be expected to enter into a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NHS England’.

NHS England has identified a ‘menu of support’ for practices which will be tailored to the needs of practices in local areas. However, the support is locally determined so it is up to the local team what support they offer.

Items on the ‘menu’ that could be offered include support with workforce issues, management advice, coaching and mentoring as well as cover for staff on leave.

For more advice on how to access the programme, read Pulse's full guide

Readers' comments (22)

  • ?? Too little too late?
    And will it ever arrive?
    I assume there will be much form filling (in triplicate) and much hoop jumping

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  • Pull the other one its got knobs on!This from an organisation that has shown its contempt for primary care over the years .Why dont you do what you usually do and use the monies to fill the bottomless holes in secondary care.

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  • Pulse thanks for bringing the comments back Id thought you'd been got at by the government.

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  • Forgive my cynicism, but I can splash £800k by March without very much trouble - I've got a list. But it doesn't mean I've helped anyone but myself.

    Tell us what you've spent it on, and what difference it has made, and then we'll start to believe you.

    At present, you look pretty clueless to anyone on the front line.

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  • ps. re STPs - 15-20% of Sweet Fanny Adams does not mean a lot.

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  • 40m and he is only spending 16m? I think he does not know the gravity of the situation. Why the holdback? Is it not bad enough? are you waiting for more to wither?

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  • Interesting.
    Is this acknowledgment by NHS England that if 2000 practices (out of just over 8000) in England are so "vulnerable" as to need support, at least 1/4 all English practices are on the verge of collapse?

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  • 16000 average per practice......yep that will solve it

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  • I would be most ashamed to have let the situation get so bad.

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  • Locally here the practices given the funding are the ones that have capped or closed lists and this is not necessarily those that are struggling - it is lookin as though our local area teams have been able to decide who gets help and given funding to the practices that cause them extra work ie having to spend time allocating patients - there has been no transparent process for practices to illustrate that they have a need or bid for additional funding - another dogs breakfast by NHSE

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  • WHY is it that GPs seeing 40+ patients a day in 12-14 hours need help? WHY are there 2000 practices that are vulnerable.
    My accountant charges me 200 an hour and I am led to believe there is no shortage of accountants.
    There IS a shortage of doctors and we are in this mess?
    Where are our leaders ? Should they not resign that a 1/4 of the workforce they purport to represent is on life support.
    Seeing those many patients, working those many hours in such a skilled and needed profession, we should all be wealthy, not begging.
    I think the GPC should resign forthwith, to me and to many like me, they are full of weasel words, but clinging on to gongs.

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  • Apologies for this here as I would have liked to mention it in one of the articles posted yesterday about this subject.
    You know medicine as we know it is doomed when Jeremy Hunt's former adviser is made the head of the GMC.
    Interestingly he worked with Hunt on the Junior hospital doctor contracts then left Hunt's direct employment to become head of the GMC.
    Then laughingly the gmc comes out with a story about how not to trust junior doctors in the nhs hospitals as they are all too stressed and working too hard ......due to the new contracts!!!!!!!!

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  • If only all bodies (BMA and all Royal Colleges) could agree to have one day when no Doctor would do any work, including no emergency cover, and inform the Government that this would take place in 2 months time on ...date, if the following was not implemented....... The Government would be forced to implement the conditions.

    We really have to go that far.

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  • We don't need more . Simply restore the funding in inflation adjusted terms to 2004 levels and all will be well.
    If you want to preserve the NHS.
    If you don't then carry on as now and in 3 years it will have gone.

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  • That's funny because 5 local practices have applied for funding to support them, and they haven't heard anything!

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  • Dear Dr Madan
    Do you realise how this classification of vulnerable practice comes -on top of of list is the flawed CQC inspection report.

    Also in practice there is no support for the practices-even CCG which is supposed to support to the practices in situations like this are absolutely useless and are vindictive. In reality there is no intention of real support.Showing of money is not a support -it is just a paper exercise our leaders should be ashamed of all these! Ask for real support to individual practices on one to one basis .

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  • These are all eye wash -in reality there is no support for the practices-no one comes and genuinely see face to face the doctor to support. greatest fault lies with the flawed CQC inspection and its report.CCG and NHSE is all useless.It is time profession looks into it why practice and doctor has reached to this stage!

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  • Great news!
    There may be a dribble of funding. There may not. It may pay for a few days locums that's all.

    But I don't care. As I'm gone and and I'm not going back
    From tireless working for the patients to sessional work to keep me going til I can quit for good. All goodwill has gone.

    as in this market economy I'm putting my fees up again this might allow the desperate practices to employ me for a few more days

    Or you could pay for Steve field to come down and see the mess he's created of course...although I hear he's too busy doing emergency drug monitoring....

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  • So the practices that work hard and efficiently watch on, unrewarded, whilst the inefficient get hand outs. Great, time to start struggling.

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  • This amount of funding is a token gesture. It is a drop in the ocean.
    It is there just for pr sake as it has no real benefit to the long term survival.

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