Exclusive BMA and RCGP workload advice for GP practices, which says they can ‘pause’ non-essential work, ‘remains relevant’ going into April, the BMA’s GP Committee chair has told Pulse.
NHS England said it expects GPs to restart all QOF activity when income protection ends this week, and that GP practices’ continued participation in the Covid vaccination programme is dependent on their ability to guarantee that they can deliver core contractual services at the same time.
But Dr Richard Vautrey said that the joint guidance from the BMA and RCGP on practice workload prioritisation issued in January – which says ‘most’ GP practices should pause all or a ‘significant’ proportion of their non-essential work, depending on local Covid rates – ‘remains relevant as we continue in the pandemic situation’.
Meanwhile, a BMA spokesperson told Pulse it is in ongoing discussions with NHS England about extending income protection for QOF, DESs and local enhanced services (LESs).
A recent GPC bulletin said: ‘We have continued to encourage NHSE/I to maintain the vital support for practices from April onward, with a renewed call for ongoing income protection for QOF, DESs/LESs and other contract elements.
‘Without these protections and support, many practices are telling us they may not be able to deliver the vaccination programme, let alone take on the second phase (for patients in cohorts 10-12).’
The bulletin also called for CCGs to maintain income protection arrangements for LESs and ‘other local schemes’.
It said: ‘This is critical to enable practices to continue with the successful delivery of this nationally important vaccination programme. We therefore hope that CCGs will do all they can to support practices in this way for the coming months.’
NHS England has not yet announced how many GP sites have signed up to continue with phase two of the vaccination programme.
Earlier this month, the BMA revealed that one in ten GP practices are missing out on funding for NHS Health Checks and LESs because commissioners are failing to protect income against national guidance.
However, it was announced last week that GP practice income will be boosted by a new £120m Covid fund for six months from April.
Meanwhile, NHS England has revealed that GP practices delivered one million more appointments per week in January than before the pandemic.
And GPs across the country told Pulse earlier this month that their workload feels ‘unmanageable’.