Primary Care Networks will be funded £11,500 on average every month in 2023/24 to improve access, an update to the GP contract in England has revealed.
The contract papers regarding the Network DES also reveals that they will have just six weeks to develop plans to improve access in order to receive a share of a further £74m – around £60,000 per PCN per year.
This funding is part of the investment and impact fund (IIF) incentive scheme, and as part of this, networks will be expected to see 85% of patients within two weeks of them requesting an appointment.
In a roadshow yesterday, BMA GP Committee England (GPCE) negotiators advised GPs and networks to ignore the two-week requirement due to the relative low level of funding attached to it.
The contract papers for the Network DES were released this morning, although the details around the GMS contract have still not been published as of 2pm on Thursday 30 March, despite it being implemented from 1 April.
NHS England imposed the contract this month, which has led to talk of potential industrial action, with GPCE convening a special meeting on 27 April to discuss next steps.
Under the IIF part of the Network DES, PCNs will be given an average of £3 per patient unconditionally in 2023/24 to help support them to improve access, working out at about £11,500 per month for an average PCN.
A further £60,000 per year per PCN – around £1.30p per patient – will be disseminated to networks based on their success at improving access.
To receive the £1.30p per patient, PCNs will ‘by 12 May 2023, develop an access improvement plan that is agreed with the ICB’, the documents state. They will also need to: demonstrate improvement in the patient experience over the year through metrics such as the patient survey and the friends and family test; adopt the use of cloud-based telephony systems; and accurately record data.
The document said: ‘ICBs, PCNs and member practices should co-develop and co-own a local improvement plan setting out the changes they intend to make. Local improvement plans should address any identified barriers to improvement or wider support required and link to local support offers for integrated primary care, and where commissioner support is required, commissioners should commit to providing that support.’
A separate indicator in the IIF requires PCNs to see at least 85% of patients being given an appointment within two weeks of them requestion them.
The indicator (ACC08) is worth around £14,000 per PCN on average and GPCE have said networks should consider whether they want to engage with it.
Dr Clare Bannon, a GPCE negotiator, told GPs at a contract seminar yesterday: ‘There’s two different segments in IIF. There’s the ACC08 target and this is an IIF indicator. It gives you around 25p per patient for hitting the two-week access target. So what we’re going to be measured on there is the number of patients that are seen within two weeks. And the targets are 85% at the lower threshold and 90% at the upper threshold. Now that is going to be difficult for a lot of practices to meet.
‘I just want to say that this is not contractual, that’s a target, so practices need to think about if that’s not doable then consider not doing it. We’ve been talking to LMCs a lot about safe working and you need to think about 25 contacts a day. If you’re seeing more than 25 patients a day then is that manageable? Is that going to be safe? Are you going to risk burning out?’