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All GP practices will see improvement in financial resources, NHS finance chief says

All GPs will see an improvement in their finances from the Government’s extra £2bn investment in the NHS next year, according to NHS England’s finance chief.

The NHS England board meeting today agreed that the £250m per year earmarked for general practice infrastructure over the next four years announced by the chancellor, plus a £200m ‘transformation fund’, will go towards the new models of general practice described in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which will involve GP practices working closely with job centres, social services and other community services.

But the meeting also agreed that ‘all primary care organisations will see an improvement in their financial resources’ – not just those transforming into new models of primary care – from £1.5bn given to NHS England to support frontline services.

Board papers – which were passed at the meeting – said that primary care funding should increase at least as much as that for community care and secondary care.

The papers said: ‘£1.5 billion of the extra funding should be used to support frontline services, and £480 million should be used to support transformation in primary care, mental health and local health economies. Primary care funding should be increased by at least as much as local CCG-commissioned community and hospital allocations.’

NHS England said further details would be available in the 2015/16 planning guidance, expected to be published on Friday, which will also include an invitation to those wanting to pilot the new models and outline a plan to help ‘distressed’ health economies.

The papers said: ‘The guidance will invite organisations to register their interest in becoming the first cohorts of various care models; describe a more permissive approach across the board; and outline a joint intervention regime for systems in serious difficulty; begin to outline the approach for targeting the £250m infrastructure fund at multi-speciality community providers, and the £200m fund to support the creation of new care models; [and] set out a plan to deliver a new deal for primary care.’

Speaking at today’s board meeting, NHS England chief financial officer Paul Baumann said: ‘We have increased the amount of core funding to primary care, in other words not the kind of strategic infrastructure-type funds but the amount that is going in for day-in-day-out commissioning of primary care. Doubtless not as much as we would want to increase it but… it is substantially increased so that all primary care organisations will see an improvement in their financial resources. I think is necessary to recognise some of the significant pressures in primary care that we are currently experiencing.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘I think we are all acutely aware of the importance of proper investment in primary care, which has lost out, relatively speaking, over the last 10 or 15 years compared with other parts of the health service. So the proposal before the board today is that primary care would get a higher uplift than local hospital and community services, about 20% proportionally higher than what is otherwise allocated across the piece. Partly of course because of the £250m funding for primary care infrastructure and out-of-hospital services.’

Mr Stevens had previously told Pulse that existing GP premises bids would be prioritised for the first tranche of new investment, for what he called ‘shovel-ready’ projects.

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