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Independents' Day

GPC calls on NHS England to support practices in danger of closure

The GPC has called on NHS England to urgently set up a dedicated financial resource for struggling GP practices.

Mirroring the calls of Pulse’s long-running Stop Practice Closures campaign, the GPC has urged NHS England to set up a dedicated support fund to stabilise practices identified as at risk of closure.

In response, NHS England said it was working on a programme of support, as announced in the health secretary’s ‘new deal’ last month, but Pulse revealed that this will be limited to practices that have been put in special measures by the CQC.

In a letter to national managers this week, GPC said that ‘as a start’, all NHS England area teams should take the following actions:

  • develop a ‘non-threatening’ practice vulnerability index, or practice level reports, based on administrative, financial, clinical, staffing and premises infrastructure factors;
  • establish a ‘healthcare resilience task force’ which could step in at short notice to provide ‘appropriate support’ to practices based on the reports, in the form of ‘management resources, clinical input, or transitional funding’;
  • and allow GP practices to declare ‘major incidents’ similarly to A&E departments, under which they could, for example, close patient lists at short notice and gain access to emergency resources.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We urge NHS England to make available a national practice stabilisation fund, which would be deployed via area teams or CCGs where responsibility is delegated.

‘We believe that failure to act now is likely to result in much greater costs to the NHS and risks to the wider health economy, given the impact and domino effect of practice closures, re-tendering and service reduction.’

In response, NHS England said it is already working with NHS Clinical Commissioners on a programme of support.

A spokesperson said: ‘We recognise that general practice, like many parts of the NHS, is under pressure. We are working with NHS Clinical Commissioners to design a programme of support for struggling practices.’

The GPC’s letter also called for a national fund to be set up to help GP practices move to Multispecialty Community Partnerships (MCPs) models or get involved in Primary and Acute Care Systems (PACS).

The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation also said the Government will need to invest £1.5bn-2.1bn a year between now and 2021 to roll out the new models of care described in the NHS Five Year Forward View, and recommended it should be put into a dedicated ‘transformation fund’ managed by a single body, rather than being invested as a string of one-off political incentives.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Surely they would help if they wanted to - but they're in a meeting having scones and lollipops instead.

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  • Who is having the meetings NHSE,BMA,RCGP,CQC,HMG.all having meetings and fiddling with powerpoint while Rome burns.

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  • The GPC really has its priorities skewed at the moment.

    Shouldn't they be focusing on something else... like the thousands leaving the profession, the recruitment problem, govt attacks etc?

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  • The GPC is an irrelevant body. NHSE knows it, Jeremy Hunt knows and now even we GPs know it.

    Unfortunately, the GPC is a small token subcommittee of the BMA council which in turn is run by secondary care consultants for the benefit of secondary care.

    The GPC's days are now truly numbered. Other more representative organisations are being formed and there is a sense that GPs are prepared to be a lot more radical in defending our profession and livelihoods than we could ever have been under the GPC.

    The sooner the GPC loses its mandate to represent GPs the better.

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  • I think targeting resources to struggling practices is inappropriate.

    I opens the door for downward pressure on GP funds overall - with a small percentage of funds reinvested in struggling practices. I would prefer those practices to be allowed to fail so overall costs increase - only then might the baseline funding be realigned to an appropriate level.

    There are many struggling practices locally that I have a lot of sympathy for. I perhaps would not mind if overall GP funds being raided to help those practices. I am totally aware that my practice is easier to run than some others.

    There are some practices however that are struggling because their partners are useless or just do not work as hard as I do. Those practices that are failing despite having the same baseline advantages as my practice. I would be cross if they received bonus funding (ultimately taken out of GP funds). That would just be rewarding incompetence or laziness.

    It would be difficult for a rule to distinguish between the two fairly.

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  • T Roscoe

    Anonymous 3.45pm, what planet are you on?

    "Unfortunately, the GPC is a small token subcommittee of the BMA council which in turn is run by secondary care consultants for the benefit of secondary care. "

    No it isn't, GPC is a democratically elected committee representing ALL GPs not just BMA members and is the only organisation able to negotiate with Government.

    Unfortunately for the last 15 years the Government does not want to listen

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  • I would like the chance to vote for the leaders of my trade union. I would like to have the same rights to elect my leaders as other trade unions.
    You might ask why this matters. It matters because they have no incentive to represent us in the way we wish to be represented.
    The BMA is a special register body so that it is exempt from the burden of direct democracy.
    Remove this and the leaders become a little more interested in what we think.
    I've never heard any argument why this special arrangement should persist.
    I would be genuinely interested in a debate on this. If there are any BMA defenders of this please let us know.

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  • Well said Trefor Roscoe. The BMA/GPC set-up is a lot more democratic than our Parliamentary system. The GPC is derived from LMCs They are elected bodies. Those who are not happy should detach themselves from their key-boards and actually do something.

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  • The BMA feels like the house of lords. Once your in no one is gonna get you out.
    I have no recollection of being given the opportunity to vote for the leader of the BMA. This is because we are not trusted to vote for the right person.
    'a lot more democratic than' Am I the only one that feels that sentence reveals much of the problems of the BMA?

    Go on to the BMA website and look for the details on how to stand for the GPC. You will be asked to email for details! Email for details. Hardly improves my sensation that it's a closed shop.

    I was unable to find who the 80 odd representatives were, when they were elected, (how they were elected!!) when I can expect them to come up for re-election.

    Perhaps I'm just rubbish at using computers but in a democracy, I would like to know who represents me, what their policies are, what they have voted for and against, if I don't like them when can I expect to be able vote against them.

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  • As usual the GPC is totally and utterly wrong in its actions.

    The victim is being beaten senseless. The only action to take is to campaign for the beatings to stop. The GPC's response however is to ask for first aid for the victims while the beatings continue. Pathetic but not a surprise.

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