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BMA calls for ‘similar support’ for GPs as hospitals handed £145m winter bailout

GP leaders have called on NHS England to provide ‘similar support’ to GP practices after trusts were given a multi-million pound winter bailout today.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said NHS England should ‘set the right example’ as CCGs work with practices to plan for winter pressures.

His calls come as NHS England unveiled a £145m investment for hospital trusts today, to help them cope with an increase in demand through winter.

Yesterday, NHS England announced a £10m fund to cover indemnity for GPs who commit to work extra shifts in extended hours, out-of-hours and unscheduled care sessions through winter.

But Dr Vautrey said: ‘The winter indemnity scheme is welcome, and extended access services will offer some extra capacity, but there is also a need to recognise the day-to-day pressures every practice will face throughout the winter period and beyond.’

NHS England’s board papers, published today, said £145m extra investment for trusts will ‘increase beds, A&E capacity, same-day emergency care, and acute mental health services ahead of this winter’.

With regards to GP services, they suggest pressures will be relieved by the winter indemnity fund, the planned further rollout of extended evening and weekend appointments from 1 October, as well as the new more effective flu vaccine for over-65s.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘Whilst most CCGs will be working with practices as part of their winter planning it’s important that NHS England sets the right example and is much clearer in papers, such as this, their commitment to providing similar support to general practice and community based services.’

Kent LMC medical secretary Dr John Allingham said it was ‘difficult to see’ how the £10m winter indemnity fund would ‘make much or any difference to ease the pressures in frtonline general practice’.

He said: ‘We need schemes that direct patients away from GP surgeries [or] work to increase capacity by removing non-clinical work.’

The news comes as GP practices are already struggling with extra winter-related workload, having to swap over-65s flu vaccine stocks between practices and pharmacies due to supply issues.

Last year, GPs were allocated just 4% of the total amount of NHS winter resilience funding, with the rest going to secondary care.