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Divide £150m Covid fund equally between practices, say local GP leaders

Divide £150m Covid fund equally between practices, say local GP leaders

Dividing the £150m Covid-19 fund evenly between practices is the only fair way to provide access to the promised additional resources, some local medical committee leaders have told Pulse.

NHS England has earmarked the additional pandemic funding for practices ‘until March’ to help GPs ‘remain open and accessible’ while vaccinating the population against Covid-19.

Conditions attached to the funding include practices returning activity to ‘at least prior levels’ and making ‘significant progress on learning disability health checks’.

However, NHS England explicitly instructed CCGs they ‘should not introduce overly burdensome administrative processes for PCNs and practices to secure support’.

LMCs have been in discussion with CCGs to work out plans for accessing the fund.

Dr Rob Barnett, medical director of Liverpool LMC said it had been agreed that CCGs in the region would get their cut of what was available – equating to £1.47m for Liverpool.

‘We’re in the process of writing to practices telling them what is their fair share on a weighted population basis.’

He added that practices would be asked, taking into account the seven priorities set out by NHS England, their plans for using additional resource.

‘That is about as reasonable as you can expect. No one is going to write a cheque and say here you are so this is a reasonable way of doing things.

‘I don’t think it will be too onerous for practices and there will be a “light touch” approach.’

He added that he expected GPs to use the funding for extra staff to help manage vaccination, long-term management, or doing the learning disability health checks.

Dr John Allingham, medical director of Kent LMC said they were also allocating funds equally based on practice size.

‘In Kent there is an agreement that most of the money is going to practices on a weighted capitation basis.’

He added the only claw back would be the 40p per patient if the target for Learning Disability health checks is not met.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs said the money had been agreed with CCGs and the ‘light touch’ approach seemed to be working so far.

Others said they were still in negotiations about how access to the funding would work.

Dr Darren Tymens, medical director of Sussex and Surrey LMCs said conversations with CCGs were still happening and the situation was very fluid.

But he added: ‘To be fair to them, they appear keen to find light-touch solutions that allow practices flexibility.’

Dr Tracey Vell, chief executive of Manchester LMC told Pulse that agreement had just been reached earlier in the day.

‘We agreed that the £8m due to Greater Manchester will be distributed on fair shares to our 10 localities and flow out to providers.

‘We hope that this will happen and CCGs will pass on the funding to assist providers.’