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NHS England paid GP leaders to ‘promote and sell’ GP Forward View

Exclusive GP leaders in parts of England have been offered funding by NHS England to ‘sell’ the GP Forward View to their member practices.

LMC leaders in the North, Midlands and East of England were invited to apply for funding worth £10 per 1,000 patients to ‘enable the engagement of GP practice in the GPFV’ in March. 

However, GP leaders have described the funding as ‘propaganda’ as it required LMCs to ‘proactively promote and sell’ the GP Forward View

This comes as GP leaders voted in favour of the BMA’s GP committee negotiating ‘improvements in the GP Forward View to ensure that money reaches practices directly’ or otherwise ‘publicly dissociating’ with the plan.

LMCs were sent a letter from NHS England Yorkshire and Humber outlining five ‘objectives and outcomes’ that had to be met to receive the funding.

The objectives include providing GPs with ‘reassurance that significant elements of the GPFV are about restoring or providing resilience to extended GP practice teams’.

Dr Dean Eggitt, medical secretary of Doncaster LMC, told Pulse that LMCs across South Yorkshire originally applied for funding jointly but he said their bid was turned down and instead each LMC was asked to put in separate bids.

But Doncaster LMC declined to put in a separate bid, with Dr Eggitt described the process as ‘propaganda’ and ‘a step too far’ for the LMC.

He said: ‘Doncaster LMC doesn’t believe that the GP Forward View is a solution or should be proactively celebrated so we declined to apply for any of the finances.’

Dr Eggitt said: ‘On the one hand you could say that it is an opportunity to explain to GPs and practices how to access the resources but you didn’t need funding to be able to do that, we can already do that without funding.’ 

NHS England North told Pulse that eight LMCs took up the offer of funding in Yorkshire and the Humber, covering around 4.46m patients.

Dr Paul Twomey, joint medical director for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber said they were working closely with LMCs ‘to help facilitate the delivery of the GPFV’ and ‘successfully engage with all GP practices’.

A spokesperson for NHS England Midlands and East said Essex, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk LMCs received funding to provide training courses for around 400 practice managers.

However, Cambridgeshire LMC chief executive Dr Guy Watkins said he does not recognise the funding as being for providing reassurance, but ‘as a group of LMCs we identified monies in the GPFV for practice manager training that NHSE looked unable to spend in a timely way, so we applied for the money, were awarded it, and ran bespoke training courses for our practice managers’.

Dr Ian Hume, medical secretary for Norfolk and Waveney LMC, added that the LMC was approached by NHS England to use funds intended for practice manager development.

He said: ‘We wanted to ensure the funds were spent appropriately and reached the intended target audience. With these funds we were able to offer each of our practice managers a place at a “Lead, Manage, Thrive” course in early October.’

NHS England for the London region also told Pulse that Londonwide LMCs have been commissioned ‘to provide training sessions for practice leaders about how to deliver large-scale general practice, a core aspect of the GP Forward View’.

However, NHS England South said no LMCs in the region were given funding.

The other LMCs mentioned in the article have been approached for comment.

What is promised in the GP Forward View

NHS England’s GP Forward View sets out an array of promises for general practice through to 2020/21, including targets to increase GP funding and workforce numbers.

However, Pulse has found that the target to recruit 5,000 GPs has been watered down by plans to recruit the majority of new GPs from abroad, despite NHS England giving local GP leaders targets for recruitment in their area.

NHS England also promised a £2.4bn funding increase by 2020/21, which Simon Stevens has said is £80m ahead of schedule.

The GP Forward View also promised 5,000 staff will be added to the primary care workforce, claiming that nearly 3,000 had already been recruited.

But director of primary care at NHS England Dr Arvind Madan has said that the ‘jury’s still out’ on whether the GP Forward View is working

Meanwhile, NHS England said it would be launching a review of CCG spending to ensure that the £171m pledged in the GP Forward View to boost practice ‘transformation’ and deliver extra appointment capacity is being spent.