The GPC has called on NHS England to urgently set up a dedicated financial resource for struggling GP practices.
Mirroring the calls of Pulse’s long-running Stop Practice Closures campaign, the GPC has urged NHS England to set up a dedicated support fund to stabilise practices identified as at risk of closure.
In response, NHS England said it was working on a programme of support, as announced in the health secretary’s ‘new deal’ last month, but Pulse revealed that this will be limited to practices that have been put in special measures by the CQC.
In a letter to national managers this week, GPC said that ‘as a start’, all NHS England area teams should take the following actions:
- develop a ‘non-threatening’ practice vulnerability index, or practice level reports, based on administrative, financial, clinical, staffing and premises infrastructure factors;
- establish a ‘healthcare resilience task force’ which could step in at short notice to provide ‘appropriate support’ to practices based on the reports, in the form of ‘management resources, clinical input, or transitional funding’;
- and allow GP practices to declare ‘major incidents’ similarly to A&E departments, under which they could, for example, close patient lists at short notice and gain access to emergency resources.
GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We urge NHS England to make available a national practice stabilisation fund, which would be deployed via area teams or CCGs where responsibility is delegated.
‘We believe that failure to act now is likely to result in much greater costs to the NHS and risks to the wider health economy, given the impact and domino effect of practice closures, re-tendering and service reduction.’
In response, NHS England said it is already working with NHS Clinical Commissioners on a programme of support.
A spokesperson said: ‘We recognise that general practice, like many parts of the NHS, is under pressure. We are working with NHS Clinical Commissioners to design a programme of support for struggling practices.’
The GPC’s letter also called for a national fund to be set up to help GP practices move to Multispecialty Community Partnerships (MCPs) models or get involved in Primary and Acute Care Systems (PACS).
The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation also said the Government will need to invest £1.5bn-2.1bn a year between now and 2021 to roll out the new models of care described in the NHS Five Year Forward View, and recommended it should be put into a dedicated ‘transformation fund’ managed by a single body, rather than being invested as a string of one-off political incentives.