A CCG has set up a crisis fund from which its member GP practices can request money if they hit temporary hard times.
NHS South Tyneside CCG said this was for scenarios where practices are ‘facing short-term difficulties, like a sudden influx of patients, illness outbreaks or an unexpected need for additional staff cover’.
GP practices can claim up to £20,000 from the fund, although their bid has to be peer reviewed by another GP practice or the local medical committee before submission to ensure it is ‘sensible’.
The crisis resilience fund was put in place last month and will be reviewed in March next year.
Papers from the CCG’s primary care committee said the ‘funding source for this initiative will be from the CCG’s Primary Medical Services Contract Contingency Fund’.
‘This funding source also has a range of other commitments against it, and therefore it will be incumbent upon CCG officers to carefully manage the balance of funds committed. The scheme will be reviewed in full in March 2019, before any onward intentions are agreed,’ they added.
Matt Brown, director of operations at NHS South Tyneside CCG, said: ‘GPs are facing increasing pressure, so it’s critical that we do everything we can to support them.
‘The GP Practice Crisis Resilience Fund was set up to support GPs across South Tyneside when they are facing short-term difficulties, like a sudden influx of patients, illness outbreaks or an unexpected need for additional staff cover.
‘If a sudden crisis arises that isn’t covered by insurance or other funding, GPs can access this fund for financial help – we envisage that most bids for support would be under £20,000.’
Mr Brown said that to ensure ‘value for money for the tax payer’, each request would be ‘reviewed by another GP practice or the LMC to ensure that it’s a sensible use of money’.
‘This also allows conversations to start between practices about how they can work together, or whether they need to access support. By working together and doing things differently, our practices can become more resilient and sustainable,’ he added.
The news, which was also reported by the Shields Gazette, is the latest example of a CCG tapping into its own funding to support struggling practices.
Last month, NHS City and Hackney CCG in east London revealed it had set aside £500,000 to top up practice funding to make up for the loss of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) – which is being phased out by the Government.
NHS England also runs a central £40m resilience programme for general practice. However a recent Pulse investigation revealed that small GP practices were least likely to receive a bailout from the fund, despite accounting for the majority of closures over recent years.