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£2.4bn GP support package ‘remains on track’ two years in, says NHS England

The £2.4bn rescue plan for general practice – the GP Forward View – is ‘on track’ two years after it was announced, NHS England has told Pulse.

In an opinion piece submitted to Pulse, primary care director and deputy medical director Dr Arvind Madan also said they are now ‘beginning to see some of the fruits’ of the investment.

Alongside a breakdown of progress on each funding stream – detailed and rated here – NHS England pledged that by 2021, all practices would have benefited from every single one.

Dr Madan said: ‘I am pleased to report the funding trajectory for the GPFV remains on track, despite the many pressures on our NHS.

‘Twenty-four months in to this five-year programme, which some have described as “the biggest change management programme in the history of English general practice”, we are now beginning to see some of the fruits of this investment, and whilst I understand that not every practice is seeing the benefit of every one of the comprehensive package of initiatives yet, we remain clear that all practices should feel the benefit of all its elements by the end of the programme.’

He said this comes as ‘in the last two years’ examples of progress included:

  • 800 estate and IT schemes completed;
  • 2,100 practices benefiting from the resilience programme;
  • 176 CCGs engaged in the ‘Time for Care’ programme;
  • Over 5,000 trained care navigators and 2,100 trained staff in managing clinical correspondence;
  • ‘numerous’ digital schemes such as rolling out online consulting and Wi-Fi in practices, and more clinicians servicing 111 calls; and
  • over 3,900 more FTE other health professionals in practices than two years ago, including around 500 more FTE practice based clinical pharmacists, ‘with over 580 more to follow soon’.

Dr Madan went onto say that support for practices to work at scale, due to be injected by all CCGs by the end of this year, should ‘help bring to life the impact of the GPFV initiatives’.

But this comes as researchers have called for more evidence to be gathered about the clinical and financial impacts of new large-scale general practice models being pursued.

It also comes as a Nuffield Trust survey of GPs in December found that most GPs would still be unwilling to give up their contract in favour of one of the new care models.

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But Dr Madan said he believed they ‘represent a real opportunity to build resilience within groups of practices’ and would offer patients ‘an enriched version of primary care’.

And he said that while he was ‘acutely aware’ of issues still being faced by general practice, including with workload, recruitment and retention, there was ‘a steadily growing number of practices, that have actively engaged with the [GPFV] programme, that are starting to see the benefits’.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We will be producing our own two-year analysis shortly, but as we have previously highlighted, the GPFV funding trajectory does not match what is really needed in terms of long-term recurrent investment in to general practice.

‘Whilst the additional funding they have provided is welcome, some is not recurrent and a significant proportion is for evening and weekend GP access schemes, rather than properly investing in the core daytime service. To really address the massive day-to-day pressures in general practice and meet growing patient expectations, we need a step change in funding commitments.’