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NHS to review whether £171m for ‘practice transformation’ is reaching GPs

NHS England is undertaking 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.

Speaking at the RCGP Annual Conference 2017 last week, NHS England’s director of primary care, Dr Arvind Madan said NHS England is ‘in the process of assuring’ CCGs are earmarking the funding for practices.

The GP Forward View promised that CCGs would invest a total of £171m – roughly £3 per patient – into practice transformation, but Dr Madan admitted this had been a ‘particularly contentious’ issue. 

GP leaders said that there were ‘genuine concerns’ about this funding getting to practices, as CCGs must find funding in their budgets without jeapordising frontline care.

The transformation funding was intended to support practices to ‘transform’ by working ‘at scale for improved access’ and to implement NHS England’s ‘ten high impact actions’ for freeing up GP time – such as better use of social prescribing.

The RCGP’s July report on the progress of the GP Forward View’s pledges highlighted that many CCGs had blocked out the money for practices in 2017/18 and 2018/19, but other areas had yet to do so.

Dr Madan, who is a partner in London’s Hurley Group Practice, told delegates: ‘The £3 per head is a particularly contentious issue. We are in the process of assuring – across all the CCGs – that this is being recognised in terms of an investment in primary care transformation.’

He added that NHSE is investing in ‘additional appointment capacity’ by rolling out GP access hubs across the country by March 2019.

Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, told Pulse: ‘There are genuine concerns about delivery against the transformation money, and it’s something that we are keeping a very close eye on.

’It is difficult, at a local level, for LMCs to track exactly where the money has come in and how it’s been spent. It’s supposed to be an allocation from CCGs, but there’s always contention between NHS England centrally and CCGs about whether the money is in their baseline, or whether it’s extra funding.

‘That makes it very difficult to ensure that all the £3 goes on practice transformation.’

Dr Sanford-Wood added that in his experience ‘most CCGs’ had found it challenging to block out the funding for transformation with their budgets already stretched to provide direct care.