GP practices will have their funding for QOF, DES and LES protected during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
The NHS said this comes in a bid to ensure funding concerns do not impact on decisions made by clinicians during the crisis.
A letter to NHS managers from NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, sent today, said: ‘We will make sure that funding does not influence clinical decision making by ensuring that all GP practices in 2020/21 continue to be paid at rates that assume they would have continued to perform at the same levels from the beginning of the outbreak as they had done previously, including for the purposes of QOF, DES and LES payments.’
Giving evidence to the House of Commons health and social care committee this afternoon, Mr Stevens went even further, promising all NHS organisations would be paid regardless of meeting their usual targets, for up to six months.
He said: ‘What we’re doing, not just with GPs, but we are going to do the same with community pharmacists, we are going to do the same with hospitals and NHS trusts, is essentially to say, look, for the next 4-6 months clearly we are all going to be going flat out at the coronavirus and therefore we are suspending the usual rules around the contracts and payments and incentives, and just paying upfront the funding that staff and organisations need in order to do the right thing for their patients on coronavirus.’
He added that there would be ‘many myriad aspects of the way that the GP contract works that will conform to that’.
Mr Stevens also said there would ‘almost certainly’ be relaxation around GP prescribing rules, including repeat prescriptions and when patients should have reviews.
But asked by GP MP Dr Luke Evans whether the PCN network DES requirements would be postponed, also in light of the fact that the LMCs conference voted it down, Mr Stevens would not be drawn.
He said: ‘My team are obviously discussing with the [GP] Committee the best way of doing this going into next year. But, two of the things you’ve just referred to frankly will be a help to practices, not a hindrance. Namely, being able to work together with other practices in their neighbourhood, also known as primary care networks, and getting extra staff in, whether it’s therapists, nurses or other members of the practice team.
‘So those are probably two of the things that you wouldn’t want to go slow on, you probably want to do more of those.’
More to follow…