More than 1,000 GP practices to receive resilience fund support this year, says minister

More than 1,000 GP practices in England will receive support this year through the General Practice Resilience Programme, a health minister has said.

Health minister David Mowat (Photo: Pete Hill)
Health minister David Mowat (Photo: Pete Hill)

Responding to a written question from Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak Steve McCabe, health minister David Mowat said that NHS England had identified 1,062 GP practices that will benefit from support this year under the programme.

He added that further practices could receive help under support programmes drawn up locally by NHS organisations.

A total of £16m is available nationally under the GP Resilience Programme for 2016/17 - around £15,000 for each of the 1,062 GP practices set to benefit. NHS organisations have been told to 'confirm or evidence commitment of funds' to practices by December, and must spend the £16m in full by the end of March 2017.

GP practice closures

Guidance published by NHS England suggests support for practices at risk of closure could come in the form of management support to turn around poor CQC ratings, help to improve 'operational efficiency', or coaching from neighbouring GPs or practice managers.

Part of the funding could be used to pay for backfill for GPs who help other practices in their area, or for 'resilience teams' employed by CCGs or NHS England, or for 'third party suppliers' such as GP federations that could be asked to work with practices that are struggling.

Mr Mowat said: 'Assessments carried out by NHS England local teams, concluded on 18 October 2016, identified 1,062 individual practices that will benefit from support this year to help improve sustainability and resilience, including support upstream of difficulties occurring. NHS England believes that the actual number to be offered support is likely to be greater, as some NHS England local teams are additionally targeting support across geographical areas more generally.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline that funding available under the GP Resilience Programme must be spent 'wisely, but quickly'.

GP crisis

He warned that NHS officials must not fail to deliver the support practices need - warning that an earlier scheme to support vulnerable practices had delivered very little support in some areas that needed it because of bureaucratic hurdles.

'We haven’t yet seen the details from individual areas and seen what the resources are being spent on,' he said. 'It is a limited resource and needs to be spent wisely, but quickly. We haven’t seen agtgregated details from NHSE about how the money is being spent and over what timeframe.'

Dr Vautrey warned that NHS officials needed to ensure that funding was available flexibly and targeted at practices' needs based on local knowledge and circumstances.

GPs have warned that funding pledged under the GP Forward View is not being delivered fast enough to turn around the crisis facing the profession.

GPonline has reported in recent weeks that one in 10 GPs fear their practices is at risk of closure in the next 12 months, and that many partners are considering cutting their pay to keep their practice afloat.

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