This is significant. Among all the incentives on offer for PCNs, this was the biggest and offered up the most funding. As with all data like this, there are caveats. A lot of that funding would have been held over for this year, or spent on other PCN activities.
But the fact is that the offer of pharmacists and social prescribers last year (along with the array of roles on offer this year) does not equate to straight funding. If you can’t find a pharmacist, tough luck – you just better hope you have a benevolent CCG that takes NHS England’s voluntary advice to retain the funding in general practice. And if you don’t need a social prescriber (or any other non-GP healthcare professional), or feel it is more hassle than it is worth to find and train them? Again, too bad.
There remains no reason why the health authorities can’t just trust GPs to spend the money as they see fit. Contrary to the belief of the reactionary press, it won’t go straight into GPs’ pockets. GPs want to reduce their workload more than anyone, and reducing GPs’ workload is the one thing that would improve patient care more than anything. But sadly, this is a much harder case to make to the electorate.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.