Exclusive: NHS England to explore new support mechanisms for 'atypical' practices

NHS England is set to examine new support mechanisms for practices serving atypical populations.

The national commissioning body has confirmed that a working group is being set up to investigate ways to support practices that are not adequately supported by existing contractual arrangements.

NHS England said the terms of reference for the project had yet to be finalised.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker has highlighted the extra workload faced by practices with large numbers of patients whose first language is not English. One GP from a practice that fits this category - who asked not to be named - told GPonline that she understood a number of types of atypical practices had been identified, including those serving very rural populations, those with high numbers of non-English speakers, university practices, and those serving homeless patients.

GPonline has also reported on research demonstrating the additional workload faced by GP practices serving deprived populations.

GP practice funding

The move by NHS England follows a joint workshop with the GPC and LMCs in autumn 2015 to discuss funding problems atypical practices face. LMCs were asked to collect information over the summer to identify practices with atypical populations.

GPC leaders said the solution may in some cases be ‘formula based’ but in other cases ‘clear national frameworks for locally commissioned services will be the best way forward’.

Deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said there was 'an urgent need to find workable and sustainable solutions for some of these practices otherwise many more will close.'

NHS England said that the project being set up would aim to ‘illustrate’ ways for commissioners to help atypical practices, rather than ‘mandate’ support mechanisms.

GP commissioning

A spokeswoman said: ‘A working group is being set up to investigate ways commissioners  could support practices with significant populations that are not common to many Practices and often described as "atypical". The terms of reference for the project are currently being finalised and will specify who will be involved, but is likely to include CCGs, LMCs, NHS England and patient representatives.

‘The project will aim to illustrate (not mandate) ways in which commissioners can help practices with atypical populations.’

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