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Two-thirds of GPs cut out of consultations over £5 per head vulnerable patient funding

Fewer than one in three GPs had been consulted on how their CCGs were spending the £5 per head of funding for the care of elderly patients, a GPC survey has found, echoing the results from a Pulse investigation earlier in the year.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC’s survey of 1,232 GPs revealed that only 20% had been allocated the full £5 by their CCG, an increase on the 10% of CCGs that said they had committed funding in reponse to a Freedom of Information request sent by Pulse in April.

Dr Nagpaul also criticised CCGs for failing to engage with GPs, after the survey found that only around 28% of GPs had been consulted on how to spend the funding.

This was despite the fact the funding is intended to support GPs in their ‘named clinician’ role, to help develop care plans and coordinating care for patients over the age of 75, and NHS England guidance which said that GPs ‘should be empowered to determine how they felt they could be supported to look after their older patients’, he said.

The GP survey also revealed just 20% of grassroots GPs felt that their CCG was improving patient care, compared with 68% of CCG board members, which was indicative of a ‘mismatch’ between GP and commissioners’ experiences.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event on the next steps for primary care commissioning in London on Thursday, Dr Nagpaul explained that few GPs were receiving the funding to support vulnerable patients.

He said: ‘Only around one in five GPs reported that their CCGs had made this money available, so again there’s a sense of what you’re told is going to happen, not being borne out in reality.’

‘The Everyone Counts planning guidance by NHS England was very clear that practices should be empowered to determine how they felt they could be supported to look after their older patients.’

The survey found that, if GPs were asked how they would like to see the funding allocated, 70% said they would spend it on support staff, either community nursing or more practice nursing time.

He also said that the massive workload pressures that GPs are currently experiencing are preventing them getting involved with commissioning, and that CCGs should make more of an effort to engage their membership – particularly locum GPs and those not attached to a practice.

Dr Nagpaul told the health forum that GPs had had negative experiences of CCGs in their first year, and in many areas didn’t feel CCGs were doing enough to listen to their membership.

He said: ‘When you ask the question “are CCGs activities improving the care of your patients?” , if you happen to be a board member, you overwhelmingly think “we really are making a great change for our patients, and improving care”.’

‘But if you ask your grassroots GPs, they actually don’t seem to feel that way. As again we see this mismatch between those that lead, and those that deliver, it’s crucially important that we need to recognise and address it.’