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GPs must ‘help themselves’ to GP Forward View rescue package

Dr Robert Varnam

GPs are going to have to be proactive if they want to be helped by the Government’s rescue deal, NHS England’s head of general practice development has warned.

Speaking today at the Pulse Live conference in London, Dr Robert Varnam said last year’s £2.4bn General Practice Forward View deal was different than other policy announcements in that ‘some of it… is absolutely all in the hands of practices ourselves to decide if we want it and to be active in using it’.

According to Dr Varnam, who is also a GP in Manchester, the GP Forward View’s suggestions for ‘redesigning’ general practice was all ‘about helping practices help ourselves’.

In the session, Dr Varnam admitted that ‘a decade or more of failed leadership and failed planning at a national level’ had got GPs ‘into an unbearable situation’, but he suggested the GP Forward View now offered solutions to which GPs now can only help themselves.

He suggested this includied employing nurses and pharmacists to delegate workload and free up GP time, as well as encouraging self care and working in larger collaborations with other GP practices.

He said: ‘Actually none of those can be changed by anyone except me and my team in the practice.

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‘That is I think a big thing about this which is different.’

His comments come as the RCGP has warned that measures from the GP Forward View are not materialising quickly enough to help especially vulnerable practices.

Dr Varnam admitted that the first year for helping practice at risk had been ‘excruciatingly disappointing’, but stressed NHS England had learned from the mistakes.

Last week, Pulse reported on GP leaders’ concern that NHS England was now ‘rushing’ vulnerable practice funding, although NHS England said it was ‘perverse’ that it was accused of both being too slow and too quick about distributing the funding.

Finally, asked by a GP delegate what to do if they were suspecting CCGs were not getting GP Forward View money and opportunities through to practices, Dr Varnam invited all GPs to email NHS England their concern on the address