First wave of £40m GP resilience fund to be released this week, says NHS England

Funding from a £40m GP resilience programme to support struggling practices across England will begin to be released this week, NHS England has said.

A total of £16m will be made available in 2016/17, with each NHS region receiving a share worth between around £600,000 and just over £1m to help practices.

The funding comes as the growing GP crisis has left practices struggling to stay afloat across England. GPonline reported earlier this year that NHS England officials had declared up to 20% of practices vulnerable in parts of England.

The BMA has also warned that one in 10 GP practices in England are financially unsustainable.

NHS England said funding released from the resilence fund would 'include practical help to stabilise practices under most pressure and for those practices with workforce issues'.

GP support package

Practices will be offered specialist support on HR, IT, staffing and practice management, and will not be forced to match funding put in by NHS England to receive support.

An NHS England statement said its local teams would manage the funding to 'allow support to be developed and targeted more closely to practices or groups of practices where support is needed most'.

Practices have also been invited to apply for support under the £30m general practice development programme. The full £30m will be released over three years, but a first wave of funding will become available this year, to offer every practice in the country 'a nine- to 12-month series of workshops, learning sessions and agreed action plans'. NHS England said: 'These activities will help practices to implement their plans to help release capacity and work together at scale, enable self-care, introduce new technologies and make best use of the wider workforce, so freeing up GP time and improving access to services.'

GPC member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: 'It is encouraging that the government is finally showing signs of recognising the immense pressures facing GP practices which has left many on the brink of closure.

GP crisis

'This year a major BMA survey found that more than 300 practices across England believed they were no longer financially viable because of a combination of declining resources, rising patient demand and staff shortages. We face the serious prospect of whole areas of the country being left without local GP services to provide care to their communities.

'This new resilience fund does significantly expand the resources available to struggling practices and it appears to have learnt some of the lessons from last year’s failed vulnerable practice scheme which was riddled with delay and bureaucracy.

'However, we will be scrutinising the detail of this proposal as it is vital that the funding is provided in a flexible manner and is streamlined to avoid an exhausting bidding process. We also must ensure that practices are comfortable in seeking support, and do not fear reprisal from breach of notice orders, which would perversely deter those that most need assistance.'

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