ARRS funding increased to £1bn ahead of PCN opt-out deadline

PCNs will have access to over £1bn to recruit staff via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) in 2022/23 - but practices could yet choose to opt out of the network DES this month.

Details of the 2022/23 GP contract published by NHS England show that ARRS funding will reach £1.026bn, increasing by £280m on the previous year - and breaking through the £1bn mark for the first time since PCNs' introduction in 2019.

Changes to network DES contract funding mean that networks with a population of 30,000 patients will be able to claim £500,900 to hire extra staff from a list of 15 roles, while a network of 50,000 can expect to receive £834,800 to reimburse recruitment costs.

NHS England has also confirmed that clinical directors managing PCNs will be given an extra £43m leadership and management payment to support ‘core running, leadership and management’ during this financial year - supplementing the previously agreed £44m clinical director national budget.

PCN funding

Confirmation of increased funding for 2022/23 comes just weeks after the BMA advised practices to consider pulling out of the PCN DES after health leaders imposed changes to this year’s contract that will increase workload, including requirements on PCNs to provide extended access at weekends.

The documents confirm networks have until 30 April to tell their CCG if they want to pull out of the PCN DES. NHS England has said that PCNs signed up to the 2021/22 contract will have their contracts rolled over unless they opt out. The vast majority of GP practices in England are signed up to PCNs.

The updated 2022/23 DES also confirms three new Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) indicators, two focused on direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) prescribing and one on FIT testing for cancer referrals. The additional indicators add £34.6m to the IIF, which now totals £259.6m.

From April 2022, PCNs may be reimbursed for a further mental health practitioner roles (or a further two for PCNs with a population of over 100,000), where agreed between the PCN and the local community mental health provider.

Opt out deadline

NHS England also confirmed that two separate funding streams for extended hours access will be combined into a single fund to cover enhanced access requirements from October. This brings together the current £1.44 per head network contract DES extended hours funding and the current £6 per head CCG-commissioned extended access services.

The imposed contract for 2022/23 has been heavily criticised by the BMA, which said it was ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the deal. It said that the terms ignore appeals from the profession for increased support and fails to deliver a vital update to a five-year contract package agreed ‘long before the arrival of COVID-19’.

This led the union to warn GP practices that they ‘need to consider if the PCN DES enables them to offer safe and effective patient care within the context of their wider practice, and their present workforce' in updated ‘Safe Working’ guidance.

Practices already signed up to the network DES in 2021/22 will ‘automatically participate’ in the updated 2022/23 DES and do not need to submit any sign-up information. But those wishing to opt out will have to notify their CCG by the end of this month.

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