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Funding announced for digital tools to help surgeries move to ‘modern general practice’

Funding announced for digital tools to help surgeries move to ‘modern general practice’

NHS England has set out what funding will be available to ICBs this year to purchase digital tools to facilitate ‘modern general practice’.

A pot of at least £48m has been made available to ICBs for 2024/25 to buy tools required by practices to enhance patients’ online access and alleviate the 8am rush, as set out in the GP recovery plan.

The central fund will cover a range of products that help practices move to the ‘modern general practice model’ such as online consultation, care navigation, messaging and appointment booking solutions (see box below).

These allow surgeries to assess patient needs from initial online contact, navigate them to the appropriate point of care, enable patient interactions, as well as offer the ability to book appointments. 

Digital solutions such as these will help practices regulate demand, ease the 8am rush and ensure that patients are prioritised by clinical need, the Government has said.

In guidance published last month, NHS England said that the £48m available for this year for ICBs equates to an average of 76p per patient. However, it signalled there may be more money on the table.

It said: ‘Requests up to a maximum annual equivalent of 93p per patient will be considered with funding allocated to ICBs on a first-come first-served basis once full details of costs have been received. This allows funding to be applied for as it is required.’

NHS England has also confirmed that previously agreed commitments made by ICBs in relation to the recovery plan in 2023/24 will continue to be funded this year.

The guidance advises that to get a share of the money, practices and PCNs should ‘continue to link with their ICB digital leads to ensure their requirements are discussed’.

The £48m is part of the £240m fund announced by Government last year to encourage practices to ‘embrace technology’. The money is expected to cover a four-year period from January 2024 to 2028.

Meanwhile, NHS England has said that a new framework being developed to help with the procurement of digital tools and that will ensure they are standardised has been delayed due to an ongoing legal challenge.

The Digital Pathways Framework is expected to be out this June at the earliest, although the delay doesn’t affect the availability of the £48m funding, NHS England has said.

In the meantime, ICBs are being given information on how to buy products through other routes and on contract extensions and reimbursements.

They will have to continue to work with the National Commercial and Procurement Hub to ensure that the products they select meet the required capabilities and standards for accesssing the central funding available.

ICBs have also been told that they should work ‘collaboratively’ with practices so that any requests made by them for specific products or capabilities are given ‘due consideration’.

Further information for practices can be accessed here.

Digital tools being purchased must meet the required capabilities

ore capabilities:

  • online consultations and administrative request reporting 
  • online patient or service user consultation 
  • care navigation 
  • online administrative requests 

Supplementary or enhanced capabilities:  

  • prescription ordering (for patients) 
  • communication management 
  • video consultation 
  • record viewing (for patients) 
  • cross organisational appointment booking

Products offering these solutions will be included in the Digital Pathways Framework due out later this year.

Source: NHS England

A version of this story was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Dr No 17 May, 2024 11:23 am

£48000000 sure does buy a lot of glitzy window-dressing. Pity once you get past the doorman there’s not much in the shop, and a mile long queue for one harassed person on the till. But hey, as long as the customer offer from the street side looks good, who cares?

So the bird flew away 17 May, 2024 3:35 pm

Tools! Indeed!
And from which private companies no doubt with connections to MPs (or their parties or their friends/relatives) will ICBs be encouraged to buy these “tools”?

Michael Green 19 May, 2024 11:38 pm

Great, more rubbish that nobody wants or needs. Patients don’t want to be navigated from pillar to post. They just want to see their doctor. They don’t want to be endlessly triaged around like a piece of ****. When will they give up on this BS.

And 93 pence? How generous. Don’t spend it all at once!