NHS England director of primary care, London GP Dr Arvind Madan, said that meeting a requirement to direct between 15% and 20% of sustainability and transformation funding at primary care would be a key factor in draft plans submitted in October securing approval from NHS leaders.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event in central London on Thursday, Dr Madan was questioned by LMC leaders over the effect on general practice of the STP programme.
Herefordshire LMC chair Dr Nigel Fraser said he had ‘real concerns’ that the national transformation fund - £1.8bn allocated this year - would be diverted and spent trying to sustain failing systems rather than being spent where it is needed.
Dr Madan admitted there was variation across the STPs in the ‘maturity’ of their plans for primary care. But he said that nationally NHS England wanted to ‘create some clarity around the financial expectations pointed at primary care, in order to deliver the GP Forward View from anything that might be a locally funded strand of the opportunity’.
‘What we are saying is, 15 to 20% of the STP fund, we are expecting to see pointed at primary care. And that will be one of our assessments of whether we think it passes muster.
‘So, it may not have the best described plan, but hopefully the money will be available so that we can help that area not just describe the plan, but implement it.’
NHS England has already told STP leaders they must develop plans to address the sustainability and quality of general practice, including workforce and workload issues. CCGs have been told to submit plans for implementing local elements of the GP Forward View, including £3 per head practice transformational support from their core allocations - totaling £171m to stimulate at-scale provider development for improved access, implementation of actions to free up GP time and to secure the sustainability of general practice.
GP Forward View plans will also describe access expansion and the deployment of ring-fenced devolved funding for staff training and online consultations.
Dr Madan also revealed that almost 2,000 practices are expected to have received a share of stabilisation and resilience funding by the end of this financial year.
NHS England had been too slow, he admitted, to allocate the first tranche of funding, a £10m pot for struggling practices announced by Jeremy Hunt in the GP New Deal in June 2015.
GPonline exclusively revealed in March that NHS England had initially identified over 800 practices as vulnerable and qualifying for a share of the fund. Subsequently around 900 practices were identified, but Dr Madan admitted that just £4.8m had been spent so far ‘with the ambition of the rest of the £10m in the Vulnerable Practices Scheme being spent by the end of this calendar year’.
‘We've not got this money out of the door quickly enough,' he said. ‘I think that is starting to change.’
The first £16m of the £40m practice resilience programme announced in the GP Forward View had already been allocated, he said, with over a thousand practices expected to receive a share by the end of the financial year. Further waves of the fund will be allocated over the next three years.