The BMA has written a template letter to ICBs asking for QOF and IIF to be protected for the remainder of 2022/23 so that England’s GP practices can focus on helping ‘desperate’ patients.
The doctors’ union has also written to health secretary Steve Barclay ‘highlighting the current pressures in general practice’ and requesting a meeting to discuss ‘how the Government can provide urgent support to general practice and to prioritise contract negotiations’.
The BMA has also written to the CQC to request that all routine and non-urgent CQC inspections of general practices in England be paused with immediate effect, although it is still awaiting a response.
The template letter to ICBs asks for QOF and IIF to be protected until 30 March within the local area, arguing that ‘general practice is currently facing overwhelming pressures and demand, which has pushed us beyond our capacity to consistently offer safe and high-quality care for our patients’.
‘This pressure presents risks that are perhaps even greater than two years ago,’ the letter warns.
The move comes as NHS England ‘has indicated that at this time it will not be issuing a national pause on these areas of work, although ICBs are able to institute additional support for practices to help bolster them during such an unprecedentedly busy time’, the BMA explained in a bulletin to practices.
The letter says that if the request ‘is heard and acted upon’ the BMA ‘would encourage practices to continue delivering long-term condition care, especially for cardiovascular and cancer, when urgent workload pressure allows’.
‘We recognise the vital role practices have in preventing ill health and improving outcomes, but feel that chasing the QOF and IIF targets at this time is not beneficial for delivery of good quality care to patients with the most urgent need,’ it adds.
Yesterday, Pulse revealed that GPs in Devon will get QOF income protection through winter after the vast majority of practices reported black or red alert to their GP Alert system (GPAS).
The BMA’s ICB template letter also reveals that a similar deal has been reached in Cambridgeshire.
Linking to Pulse’s news story, the BMA letter tells ICBs: ‘This action is within your gift and has been undertaken elsewhere already in other ICS areas in England, including in Cambridgeshire and Devon.’
Devon LMC had pioneered the GPAS system, which is now being rolled out by LMCs across England to provide data to local health systems on the pressures in primary care.
BMA GPC deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said: ‘General practice continues to face monumental pressures and demand, which are beyond our capacity and compromise our ability to offer safe and high-quality care for our patients.
‘The workload for practices has escalated further with the highest level of GP appointments on record combined with an ever-decreasing GP workforce.
‘There’s a limit to what general practice can safely deliver.’
So far GP practice winter support has consisted of a retirement or deferring until next year four investment and impact fund (IIF) indicators worth £37m and reallocating this funding to PCNs via a monthly support payment from October to March.