Exclusive One third of CCGs have not yet allocated funding worth £5 per patient that was promised to support GP practices to care for vulnerable and elderly patients this year, a Pulse investigation has discovered.
A Pulse Freedom of Information Act request answered by 165 CCGs found that only 27% of CCGs have given practices the full £5 per head of funding, which had been intended to support practice plans to improve the care of vulnerable patients as part of the Government’s ‘named GP’ scheme and avoiding unplanned admissions DES.
In total, £97 million has been given to support GPs – extrapolated to £124 million across England – which is less than half the £250 million that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly claimed has been directly invested in general practice as part of the scheme.
GP leaders said that the funding had been ‘hijacked’ for other purposes.
NHS England announced last year that CCGs would be told to identify funding worth £5 per head of population to support practices develop plans to improve the care of elderly and vulnerable patients.
Although NHS England guidance to CCGs did not stipulate the money had to be spent directly on GPs, the Government’s Transforming Primary Care policy document said: ‘CCGs will provide £250 million to commission additional services which will support GPs to improve quality care for older people and those with complex needs’.
Last month, Mr Hunt last month told Pulse that GPs were ‘central’ to his vision of the NHS, and said a shift of resources from the acute sector to primary care was already happening.
He said: ‘NHS England and I are in complete agreement that this has to happen. We are serious about this. There was the extra £250m that we put into the GP contract last year for improving care for the most vulnerable older people.’
However, the Pulse investigation revealed that GPs on the ground were not receiving this funding.
It found that, six months into the financial year:
- One in three CCGs have yet to allocate the funding;
- Many CCGs have allocated far less than £5 per head;
- One CCG admitted spending its £5 per head on plugging gaps in its urgent care budget;
- Two CCGs – NHS South Gloucestershire CCG and NHS Mid-Essex CCG – said they would not be providing any funding whatsoever because of financial difficulties;
- Where CCGs have committed money to GP services, it has been linked to additional targets or been repackaging of existing funding;
- There are also schemes that link the funding to reduced emergency admissions targets.
Read more from the investigation:
Dr Steve Kell, chair of NHS Bassetlaw CCG and co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said that CCGs had been given a difficult task in identifying this funding at short notice without being given any additional central resource.
He said: ‘It isn’t as straightforward as doing this in one year. I think that is where CCGs struggle, without some transformation funding.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘CCGs are not restricted to using this funding on general practice – in some areas, CCGs have used it to employ extra district nurses for local practices.’
But Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, interim secretary of Devon LMC said about the lack of funding: ‘Overall, the feeling on the ground is one of disappointment.’
Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, said: ‘I think the money should perhaps have been more carefully badged to show it actually should be paid to practices, perhaps in return for something or other. But mostly it has been hijacked for other purposes.’