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Come up with a plan to make general practice ‘sustainable’, NHS tells all areas

NHS bosses have told all areas of England to come up with a plan for the ‘sustainability and quality’ of general practice next year.

Planning guidance issued to all CCGs, local authorities and NHS trusts says that this must include addressing both ’workforce and workload issues’ in general practice in 2016/17.

The move comes after the Department of Health announced last week that general practice will receive 4% funding increases every year until 2021.

The planning guidance comes from the ’Five Year Forward View’ bodies – NHS England, NHS Improvement, CQC, NICE, Health Education England and Public Health England.

It gives nine ‘must-dos’ for every area next year, including CCGs ’tackling unwarranted variation in demand’; and getting ‘back on track’ with access standards in A&E, referral to treatment; cancer waiting times and cancer one-year survival rates.

But for GPs, the most important development is that every area of England will have to form a plan on how to ensure general practice is sustainable during 2016/17.

The document says: ’Develop and implement a local plan to address the sustainability and quality of general practice, including workforce and workload issues.’

This comes after Pulse has been campaigning to ‘Stop Practice Closures’ highlighting that general practice in many areas is becoming unsustainable.

An LMC conference in January will also look at emergency measures on how to make general practice sustainable, with some pushing for a vote on industrial action.

The new guidance also sets out the next stages for implementing the new models of care under the Five Year Forward View.

NHS England area teams, CCGs, trusts and local authorities have to propose new geographical ‘local health and care areas’ covering all of England by October 2016.

They will have to write a ’Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to submit to NHS England by June 2016 setting out how to implement the NHS Five Year Forward View and the Government mandate to NHS England locally by 2021.

The mandate, unveiled last week, saw the Government tell NHS England that half of the country should be covered by new models of general practice by the end of Parliament.

NHS England said that from 2017/18, these STPs will become ‘the single application and approval process’ to access any of the £560bn transformation funding announced in the Government’s Spending Review settlement.

A new CCG Assessment Framework, or ‘scorecard’, will also be introduced, on which NHS England is planning to consult in January, but which will include data on local clinical outcomes.

The document said: ’We are asking every health and care system to come together, to create its own ambitious local blueprint for accelerating its implementation of the Forward View.’

It added that areas that come up with the clearest and most credible STPs will ‘secure the earliest additional funding’.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ’This guidance sets out the next steps to make the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View a reality. A new approach to how local NHS leaders plan to meet health needs across whole areas will sit alongside the new Sustainability and Transformation Fund established as part of our £560bn funding plan for the NHS.

’Together they will help to ensure the NHS has solid financial foundations from next year, and to transform how care is delivered up to 2021.’