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GP practices to work with job centres following £1bn investment



GP practices will be expected to work closely with job centres, social services and other community services in return for the £1bn funding promised to primary care, the health secretary announced today.

Addressing the House of Commons, Jeremy Hunt confirmed that £1bn was to be invested in ‘community and primary care facilities’ over the next four years as part of the Autumn Statement, while £200m was to be used to fund pilots of the new ‘Multispecialty Community Providers (MSPs)’ outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which will see GPs employing community service providers as well as hospital consultants.

That money, which is being sourced from £1.1 billion worth of fines slapped on misbehaving banks, will be accompanied by £1.7 billion extra investment from the Treasury into ‘front line services’, said the health secretary.

Mr Hunt also announced that CCGs will soon be able to commission public health services as part of the ‘co-commissioning’ drive, as revealed by Pulse in October.

Chancellor George Osborne yesterday announced on the BBC that the Government was to invest in NHS services, and trailled that GP surgeries were to receive £250m a year over the next four years.

The health secretary confirmed this funding in Parliament, and said that new ‘primary care facilities’ would be expected to join with other, non-health, services such as job centres, although provided little more detail about how this would work.

He said: ‘To deliver world-class community care we need much better physical infrastructure. So today I can announce a £1bn investment fund in community and primary care facilities over the next four years. This will pay for new surgeries and community care facilities in the places where people most want them, near their own homes and families. These new primary care facilities will also be encouraged to join up closely with local job centres, social services and other community services.

‘Additionally from the £1.7bn revenue funding we are also announcing we will make £200m available to pilot the new models of care set out in the Forward View. To deliver these new models we will need to support CCGs to take responsibility with partners, for the entire health and care needs of their local populations. So as well as commissioning secondary care from next year they will be given the opportunity to co-commission primary care, specialist care, social care thought the Better Care Fund, and for the first time, if local areas want to do it, public health.

‘The NHS will therefore take the first steps towards true population health commissioning, with care provided by Accountable Care Organisations,’ he concluded.

The statement strongly echoed some of the detail announced in London local area teams’ £810 million plan to reorganise GP services in the capital, announced last week, under which Multispecialty Community Provider-style GP practices would meet regularly with social care, housing and finance advisers.

While that announcement was largely welcomed by local leaders, it came with a warning over allowing Accountable Care Organisations to be run not by GPs but by privately-owned ‘lead providers’.

It also comes after NHS chief executive Simon Stevens exclusively told Pulse that NHS England intended to urgently invest in GP premises from 2015 onwards.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is good that the Department of Health, NHS England and now the Treasury are all agreeing with GPC on the essential and urgent need to invest in general practice premises. This has been a long battle to get to this point but it is certainly not yet won. The £1bn promised is only a fraction of what is really needed but it is an important start. Clearly as buildings are built or expanded practices will want to develop closer working relationships with others serving their communities and mutually beneficial partnerships could be developed.’

But Dr Brian Balmer, the GPC’s lead negotiator on premises, said: ‘I await the detail as any plans based on political speeches are built on sand. My first question is what is the future for GP ownership?’