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Struggling GP practices to get help with locum costs from CCG ‘staff bank’

A CCG in West Yorkshire is looking into whether it can reduce reliance on GP locums by setting up ‘a bank of staff’ that can work across practices.

NHS Wakefield CCG, which has described the initiative in its plan for how to implement the GP Forward View by 2020, said work to ‘explore development of a bank of staff to utilise across the federations’ would start in April, concluding in March next year.

The work will be overseen by the new Wakefield Training Academy, which will be tasked with assessing workload and demand underpinned by a system to collect weekly data on all GP, nurse and health visitor appointments, as well as home visits, from each GP practice.

To do this, it will use a national software tool currently being piloted by NHS England or, if that is not sufficient, use a ‘bespoke local solution’, said the CCG.

The plan says that the Wakefield Training Academy ‘will develop a system to get weekly data from practices about demand, and work with colleagues to develop standardised ways of coding appointments in a meaningful way’.

By 2020, the CCG envisages that ‘staff banks [will] support practices to cover absences’, thereby achieving ‘reduced dependency on and the number of GP locums and agency staff used’, the plan says.

Wakefield LMC medical secretary Dr Lyn Hall said that ‘in theory, collecting data on GP workload is great if you intend to do something about it when the workload is too heavy’. 

But she added that that was only ‘as long as you don’t use this data punitively’.

‘The CCG could use the information to criticise GPs about response times,’ she said.

Dr Hall also said the LMC is concerned about potential workload implications.

She said: ‘If it involves GPs sending in data each week we would want practices to receive financing for that.’

NHS Wakefield CCG’s executive clinical adviser Dr Greg Connor, a GP in Doncaster, said: ‘Wakefield practices are funded to do a capacity and demand audit for a week every six months but this is time consuming and so an automated process will be preferred.’

He added that currently, there was ‘a dearth of regular useful information about practice workload to help us spot trends and gaps’.

He said: ‘The purpose of more frequent monitoring is to measure general practice workload, ensure that practices are deploying sufficient clinical resources, and support practices who are struggling.

‘Our academy will support clinical and managerial staff banks to help with periodic staff shortages as well as helping practices to recruit and retain staff, and maximise the benefits of the clinical pharmacy, [physiotherapists] and home visiting workforces we are investing in.’

All CCGs have had to supply draft plans to NHS England for how they will implement last year’s GP Forward View, which included pledges of a 14% increase in funding for general practice, reduced workload and a massive increase in workforce by 2020, in their local areas.

Other initiatives outlined in NHS Wakefield CCG’s GP Forward View plan include:

  • Training receptionists to signpost patients to the correct clinician.
  • Piloting the AskmyGP online portal.
  • Reducing non-attendance by using technology to remind patients about appointments and making it simple to cancel appointments.
  • Increasing the number of support staff in GP practices.
  • Coaching and mentoring GPs for increased resilience.
  • Rolling out social prescribing.

Source: The Wakefield 2020 General Practice Plan: Delivering the General Practice Forward View


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