This site is intended for health professionals only

Underspent ARRS millions ‘set to be returned to Treasury’

Underspent ARRS millions ‘set to be returned to Treasury’

Millions of pounds underspent in general practice via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) will likely be returned to the Treasury, the BMA has warned.

Last month, Pulse exclusively revealed that at least £64m of funding available under the scheme this year was forecast to go unspent.

And, during a webinar on the changes following the GP contract imposition by NHS England last week, the BMA said that ARRS underspend ‘will probably be going back to the Treasury’ rather than be available to support practices with their costs.

The ARRS provides money for networks to hire and create multi-disciplinary teams, against the Government’s target to introduce 26,000 non-GP staff into primary care.

Under the scheme, which is part of the Network DES, PCNs are funded to hire non-GP staff, including pharmacists, physiotherapists and paramedics among others, and represents a significant funding stream for general practice.

The investigation found that less than a fifth of that sum set to be reallocated to PCNs, meaning that the remaining money could be lost to general practice and returned to the Treasury.

The union confirmed that during contract negotiations, the Government demanded that underspends on GP contract funding streams are returned to the Treasury, rather than using it to help practices with rising costs and the cost of living crisis.  

Pulse also revealed that up to 40% of funding available via the ARRS was unspent in each of the first two years of the scheme.

And according to a recent survey, nearly three quarters (72.8%) of GPs do not have the space to house their additional roles staff.

The poll of nearly 200 GPs including PCN clinical directors showed that around half (46.2%) strongly agreed and 26.5% agreed that estates were an immediate issue for their practice.

During the webinar, GPC officials also confirmed that the new contract does not stipulate that GPs must agree death certificates with a medical examiner, updated GPs on potential options for industrial action and advised them to stick to ‘safe working guidance’ in order to prioritise patients and ‘avoid burnout’.