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Two new roles have been added to the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS), under a series of changes introduced through the new GP contract.
NHS England has today (6 March) said it will add advanced clinical practitioner nurses to roles eligible for reimbursement as advanced practitioners, and apprentice physician associates to the ARRS from next month.
PCNs with fewer than 99,999 patients will able to hire a third advanced practitioner and PCNs with lists greater than 100,000 will be able to hire six, double the current number.
And networks will be reimbursed for the time their first contact practitioners have spent out of practice training to become APs.
The changes come as part of the new GP contract, which focuses primarily on access to practices, but which promised no new funding.
Under the new contract, PCNs will see all caps removed for hiring mental health practitioners (MHPs). Practices were previously only allowed to deploy two MHPs if they served less than 100,000 patients, or four if they served a larger population.
During the year, NHS England will review the ARRS to ensure that it ‘remains fit for purpose’ and is ‘aligned to future ambitions’ for general practice.
The new contract has also amended the clinical pharmacist role description to clarify that they can be supervised by advanced practice pharmacists.
NHS England has also re-advised PCNs to offer ARRS staff permanent contracts ‘where appropriate’, as staff employed through the scheme are set to be considered part of the core GP cost base beyond 2023/24.
As of the start of the year, PCNs have hired 25,262 additional FTE staff, against the Conservative manifesto target to introduce 26,000 additional staff into practices by March 2024.
In its letter to practices, NHS England said: ‘Staff are providing significant numbers of additional appointments, improving patient access to general practice, and providing personalised, proactive, care for the populations that they serve.’
Last month, Pulse PCN revealed that at least £64m of funding available under the ARRS this year is currently forecast to go unspent, with only an estimated 13% expected to be reallocated to PCNs.
And last summer, a Pulse investigation indicated that up to 40% of funding available via the ARRS was unspent in each of the first two years of the scheme.