More than a quarter of the 212 CCGs have set up schemes to provide additional GP access or services over the winter using the £700 million allocated to the NHS for winter pressures.
A Pulse evaluation of how the winter monies have been allocated found that 54 CCGs specifically highlighted GP schemes or services they were funding, with a further 47 CCGs stating they were allocating some of the money to ‘primary care’ without specifying whether it will be given to practices.
However, the majority of the total funding is likely to be spent outside of general practice, as the Department of Health said just 3.5% (£25m) was ringfenced for GPs.
In Northern Derbyshire, £600,000 was spent on improving NHS 111 and GP out-of-hours services, and they are also funding a scheme to increase routine general practice capacity over winter.
NHS South Warwickshire CCG received £2,296,000 in winter monies and have spent it on schemes including providing additional GPs in NHS 111 call centres to improve triage, and a rotation for a GP covering A&E, the ambulance service, and acute medicine.
And the three CCGs which make up Mid-Mersey SRG have received a combined £6m, and are investing in new schemes to provide additional same-day primary care provision, and an new GP assessment unit.
The NHS has been reeling under the impact of winter pressures over the Christmas period, with GP practices being called in to run emergency surgeries on New Year’s Day in a bid to relieve pressure on swamped A&E departments.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the NHS was coping with the highest number of A&E attendances and emergency calls in history, and that the ‘urgent care front door’ must be redesigned in future.’
He said: ‘That’s why the NHS, the Department of Health and local clinicians have done everything that could reasonably be expected to plan carefully and expand services over the winter.
‘But for the future it’s clear we also need a fundamental redesign of the NHS urgent care ‘front door’ – A&E, GPs, 999, 111, Out of Hours, community and social care services – as part of the broader programme of care transformation set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.’