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RCGP launches £9,000-per-practice GP rescue scheme

The RCGP has launched a new scheme to get struggling GP surgeries ‘back on track’ which will cost practices around £9,000 each.

The service, which the RCGP says will provide ‘expert guidance and advice’ for practices, will involve visits from a 70-strong team of GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and pharmacists to struggling practices.

The £7,500 plus VAT cost of the service will be covered in most cases by the local CCG, the RCGP said, although practices will be able to access the service independently of their CCG and NHS England should they wish to.

RCGP vice chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘The College has been sounding the alarm bells about the unprecedented pressures in general practice and NHS England’s allocation of £16m in the GP Forward View for this year acknowledges the urgent need to get practices onto a more secure footing.

‘However, the take-up has been very disappointing and the majority of practices are yet to feel the impact on the ground. It’s very frustrating to hear that large sums of money are sitting there waiting to be spent – money that has been earmarked for struggling practices.’

The new scheme builds on the RCGP’s special measures peer support programme which has supported 74 practices to date.

And last year, the RCGP said it was looking to become a national provider of the £40m ‘Practice Resilience Programme’ announced in the GP Forward View last year, developing a pilot scheme designed to help struggling practices before they are put in special measures.

NHS England’s vulnerable practice scheme identified around 800 practices across the country as being in need of support at the start of 2016, but LMCs across the country have said that practices have not yet received material support.

A report on the GP Forward View published by RCGP last month found that NHS England has failed to implement measures to support practices in danger of closing.

NHS England has spent only £6m of the £10m pledged as urgent support for vulnerable practices in 2015, despite their most senior GP saying last year the whole fund should reach practices by the end of 2016.

NHS England’s director of primary care, Dr Arvind Madan, has said that almost 2,000 GP practices will have benefitted from NHS England’s resilience programmes by the end of next month.

What is the Practice Resilience Programme?

NHS England is putting £40m into the GP resilience programme over the next four years. In 2016/17 there is £16m available, with £8m in the years afterwards.

Different regions will get different levels of funding, with Yorkshire and the Humber receiving the most money (£1,593,913 in 2016/17) and North West London the least (£626,000 in 2016/17).

Practices will need to show ‘matched commitment’ to the programme, by having an agreed action plan containing ‘clear milestones for exiting support’. Practices will not need to match funding although they ‘will be expected to enter into a non-legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NHS England’.

NHS England has identified a ‘menu of support’ for practices which will be tailored to the needs of practices in local areas. However, the support is locally determined so it is up to the local team what support they offer.

Items on the ‘menu’ that could be offered include support with workforce issues, management advice, coaching and mentoring as well as cover for staff on leave.

For more advice on how to access the programme, read Pulse’s full guide