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GPs need more support to form federations, warns GPC

The GPC has called for additional funding and support to help form federations, with seven out of 10 GPs saying they have too much work and too little time to establish collaborations with colleagues.

In a GPC survey of 1,555 GPs, 69% cited workload pressures as a barrier to establishing a network or federation, while 66% cited a lack of time.

The survey also revealed that close to half (45%) were still not convinced about the benefits of federating, despite the GPC backing the model. Just over a third thought that joining a network or federation posed a threat to their practice’s independence.

However one in five were already in one and 63% wanted to federate to better bid for enhanced services such as sexual health and contraceptive services, smoking cessation services and drug dependency services commissioned by CCGs.

But two thirds of GPs called for more guidance from the BMA in order to get started, such as legal advice, HR advice and project management support.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is deeply disappointing that the very problems that are spurring the need for more collaborative working are preventing GP practices from putting in place proper solutions. There is an urgent need for resources to give GPs the breathing space to enable them to plan for the future.’

Dr Beth McCarron Nash, GPC lead for commissioning and development, said the GPC would be expanding the BMA’s existing guidance on federations in response to the survey findings. However, she added that the Government would also need to better fund general practice.

She said: ‘Due to several years of funding cuts and spiralling workloads, practices are simply running to keep up with the extra demand. Many feel collaborative working would benefit their patients, but unless we see a substantial increase in core funding, practices will not have the capacity or support they need to develop services in the way many have said they want or need to.’

‘There is also clear evidence from this survey that there is a real need for high quality legal, HR and project management to enable GPs to explore collaborative ways of working, and practices should be properly supported with these resources.’