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Practices offered £40k to merge in plan to extend ‘new models’ to 2m patients

Exclusive  GP practices across the south-west are being offered thousands of pounds in new funding as NHS England steps up the implementation of the Five Year Forward View.

Pulse has learnt that in one area of England practices are being offered up to £40,000 to form larger practices and offer secondary care services for more than 2 million patients. 

A leaked document from NHS England South West has revealed the area team is ploughing in £1.07m to accelerate the move towards NHS England’s ‘new models of care’, with the funding to be used on projects supporting 250 practices to join mergers or federations.

The larger practices are set to offer services like seven-day appointments and care home support to patient lists of more that 30,000 by 2017.

The money stems partly from the £10m national vulnerable practice fund, which is being targeted at practices rated inadequate or requiring improvement by the CQC.

But the area team has itself found £500,000 over two years intended to move GP practices onto a sustainable footing for the future.

NHS England South West has received nearly 60 bids for what it calls its ‘Primary Care Development Fund’ from practices since November, 40 of whom are likely to receive funding of between £15,000 and £40,000. 

The bids cover 249 practices, and some 2.2 million patients.

The regional team will use some of the funding for support including project management, HR and legal advice.

A document obtained by Pulse revealed successful bids for funding, which will look to carry out plans detailed in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. They include:

  • a project which will see 13 GP practices in Bristol merge or federate to cover a population of 140,000 patients, which will receive £40,000;
  • a bid from seven GP practices in east Devon, which will receive £20,000 to formalise a loose federation or fully merge, with an aim to deliver 8-8 seven-day working and hospital services in people’s homes;
  • practices which are moving to work together in groups after suffering pressures from funding cuts – in many cases due to PMS review – or substandard premises, recruitment problems or have had to close their patients list on one or more occasion.

It also lists 17 practices that are identified as ‘vulnerable’ through their bids for funding, after NHS England told its area teams to identify practices that may be unsustainable. However, it said other practices may be identified before the deadline of 28 January.

The paper said: ’In a number of areas the first steps of organisational change be that federating or merging have already taken place and groups of GPs are now ready and willing to develop new models of care in line with the Five Year Forward View.

’We were delighted to receive nearly 60 bids for Primary Care Development Fund support and it is clear that there is appetite across the South West to both build on earlier developments or to create the local architecture for joint working.’

The initiative comes as the Department of Health has mandated NHS England to ensure half of England’s population are covered by these new larger GP practice models by 2020.

NHS England’s 2016/17 planning guidance to local areas also requires all areas to come up with a plan to make sure general practice is sustainable.

Inviting practices, NHS England said it had set aside ’a limited interim local budget for immediate applications [and] bids for funding up to a maximum of £1 per weighted patient population covered by the proposal will be considered’.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘What we really want is to have local resilience teams to support practices, which regionally practices can call upon for support.

‘To do that we need resources to enable practices to work with each other [in federations] to support each other.

Pulse has previously reported that the NHS England South region has set up a scheme for 21 providers, including GP super-practices, GP federations, out-of-hours providers, foundation trusts and corporates, to step in and take over the running of struggling GP practices at short notice.