Clinical directors need support and flexibility to make PCNs work, say LMCs

LMCs have demanded increased flexibility around additional roles recruitment in primary care networks (PCNs), while voting to give clinical directors more protection to avoid excessive workloads.

GPs at the 2019 England LMCs conference in London warned that current rules in the additional roles reimbursment scheme (ARRS) were holding back recruitment, and backed a motion calling for PCNs to be able to retain funding if they failed to recruit.

NHS England (NHSE) suggested in September that PCNs that fail to spend their share of funding were likely to see the money diverted elsewhere.

LMCs agreed unanimously that PCNs should be allowed to recruit to alternative roles, as they saw fit, to help improve local healthcare.

GP workload

GPs also expressed concern over workload for PCN clinical directors - calling for GPs in these roles to have the support they needed to push back on unfair demands, including pressure to performance manage local practices.

Cornwall GP Dr Will Hynds argued that PCNs had to be given more flexibility around additional roles recruitment to see results. He said: ‘Recruitment is, and will always be a problem unless we are allowed to be creative.

‘It seems to me that NHS England has already allocated a sum of money to employ additional roles in general practice… Let PCNs off the lead and give them a predictable and sensible amount of money to employ the staff they require on a per capita basis.’

PCN funding

Last week, GPonline reported that 'unrealistic wage bands' for clinical pharmacists were making it difficult for PCNs to recruit to additional roles, meaning they faced the prospect of failing to make use of NHS England funding.

Dr Fiona Sanders told the conference that clinical director had to be protected from ‘huge workloads’. She said: ‘There is this expectation that clinical directors can solve all the problems, that they can sit on all the committees and they can attend all the meetings. Clinical directors need to be supported and empowered to resist this unrealistic expectation.

A PCN clinical director told GPonline earlier this week that the CCG appeared to have an expectation that she would step in and performance manage the practices in her network after one of them received an ‘inadequate’ CQC rating.

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