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BMA meets with health minister urging autumn PCN services be delayed to 2022 


Individual practices


The BMA has met with a health minister to call for a further delay to the introduction of new primary care network (PCN) services that are due to begin from this autumn, citing the additional workload pressures they will bring.

The four PCN services – covering CVD diagnosis and prevention, tackling inequalities and the controversial personalised care and anticipatory care services – are planned to start as early as 1 October.

In its meeting with health minister Jo Churchill, the BMA discussed the ‘additional burden’ new PCN services would have on general practice if introduced this winter and urged that they be delayed until April 2022.

The BMA said the colder months will be when practices are likely to be at their busiest, dealing with a rise in respiratory illness, Covid and flu vaccinations as well as a backlog in treatment. 

In a BMA email bulletin sent to members on Monday (28 June), it said: ‘We… pushed for the PCN service specifications planned for October to be delayed until April 2022 at the earliest to reduce additional workload burden for practices during the autumn and winter when we are likely to be facing a rise in respiratory illness alongside the need to focus on flu/COVID-19 vaccinations and support patients impacted by the ongoing NHS care backlog.’

Pulse has asked the Department of Health and Social Care whether or not it plans to further delay the PCN service specifications, as requested by the BMA, but it has not responded.

During the meeting the BMA said it raised a range of issues including recruitment to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), access to the electronic prescribing system, and concerns about the ‘overly prescriptive management of general practice’ by NHS England.

It called for the Government to ‘do more to inform the public about the pressures the whole NHS [has been] under and for them to encourage people not to take out their frustration on frontline staff, particularly by abusing reception staff’.

The BMA said it also discussed the need for ARRS recruitment to be ‘maximised’ this year and for the primary care estate to be expanded, and highlighted the need to enable dispensing practices to use the electronic prescribing system.

The PCN services it wants to see delayed have already been stalled. NHS England announced in March that the four new services, which were due to be introduced earlier this year, would be delayed until October ‘at the earliest’ following the need for ‘pandemic prioritisation’.

The latest figures from NHS Digital show GP practices in England carried out 31.5 million recorded patient appointments in April, with the numbers including 7.5 million Covid vaccines delivered by practices or PCNs.

Earlier this month, an NHS England director warned that addressing the Covid-related backlog in treatment and restoring services will be a ‘big ask’ for GPs, with the pent-up demand amounting to a ‘second public health crisis’.

NHS England has recently set a new target for GP practices to deliver appointments ‘at or above’ pre-pandemic levels for 2021/22.

READERS' COMMENTS [4]

Simon Ruffle 2 July, 2021 1:09 pm

Delivery of new services via PCNs does not increase the income required to provide core services, especially at this time. ARRS staff that meaningfully can change and help deliver primary care services for the existing workload are like unicorns let alone adding new roles and DES extensions.
If only the profession had been warned of this.
(See LMC Special Conference 11/03/2020 Motion 222 resolution outcomes.)

Patrufini Duffy 2 July, 2021 1:58 pm

He is not going to delay anything. He will take his money’s worth now. You signed up. In a pandemic. That was sheepish, and few even read Wally’s contract or repurcussions.
And for those that said no, you bought time, and temporary autonomy and space. No funding and no ARRS access. That’s “leveling up” apparently.

Patrufini Duffy 2 July, 2021 2:31 pm

I am doing some shredding today.
Pulse March 2014 – Peverley wrote: “Looks like we’re going off the rails…staff shortages delays and overcrowding…going down the wrong track”. He writes “The tedious self-centred narcissists clustering around our front door”. This system is a game full of no game changers.

Andrew Jackson 6 July, 2021 2:21 pm

How could an apparent intelligent profession sign up for some additional staff and not read the implications of the additional workload requirements and then go begging 6m later to postpone this-it is embarrassing!.
It isn’t about Covid and the postponement will make little difference as next year we will still have the impossible task of this additional work.
The negotiation point was over 12 m ago when we should have accepted the additional staff to help with core work but refused to take on any additional work requirements.
We could have argued to patients that we wanted to make what they currently have better not take on new work that most never really understand.
We have agreed to spend all the investment money that was going to be available to primary care for many years on the ARRS scheme and already it is falling apart and we are only in Year 2 for PCNs. Every year that goes on makes it harder to reverse this and then the BMA stitched us up with their recent vote on their mandate over PCNs.
Consultants may show a bit of fight soon over additional work and we will be envious.
Who of us would train to be a GP if we were in our 20s?