RCGP launches new resilience scheme for struggling practices

The RCGP has launched a new resilience scheme aimed at supporting practices that are finding it difficult to recruit GPs, keep pace with patient demand, or facing closure.

Professor Martin Marshall
Professor Martin Marshall

The service will cost £7,500 plus VAT per practice, which the RCGP said would be covered by CCGs in most cases. However individual practices can also access the service independently of their CCG or NHS England.

Under the scheme a team of experts, including GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and pharmacists, will visit practices, carry out an assessment and recommend a tailored programme of support to put them back on a more secure footing, the college said.

NHS England pledged £16m in funding for practice resilience during 2016/17 in last year's GP Forward View.

However, delivery of the funds to practices has been slow. The RCGP criticised progress on the Practice Resilience Programme in its interim assessment of the GP Forward View last month. The report found that by December 2016 only £2.5m of resilience funding had been spent, and just 219 of the 1,453 eligible practices had received any funding.

Progress on the Practice Resilience Programme was ‘extremely disappointing’ while significant numbers of practices remain at risk of closure, the college said. The RCGP has called on NHS England to roll over any underspend from the Practice Resilience Programme this financial year to next year.

The college’s new scheme builds on its special measures peer support programme, which has to date supported 74 practices that have been placed in special measures by the CQC. Practices do not need to be in special measures to access the new scheme.

RCGP vice chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘Our members and their teams on the frontline are crying out for practical support to help them deliver safe and high quality patient care and we hope that our new service will provide a much-needed solution.

'Our ageing population and rapidly increasing patient demand means that many practices are floundering through no fault of their own. The college’s scheme will help them get back on track; in some communities, it could be the vital lifeline they need to guarantee the future of the family doctor service, close to patients’ homes where they want to be treated.

'It’s very frustrating to hear that large sums of money are sitting there waiting to be spent – money that has been earmarked for struggling practices.

‘We hope that the influence and involvement of the college will change this. Our work over the past two years with practices in special measures demonstrates our expertise in this area.’

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