Commissioners will use 'local intelligence' to target £10m fund for vulnerable practices

Local commissioners are set to draw up lists of vulnerable GP practices that could be supported with a share of a £10m fund.

Guidance published by NHS England last week sets out the criteria area teams and CCGs will use to decide which practices will get a share of at least £10m over the next year.

But practices will be expected to match the funding provided on a 50:50 basis.

The support fund was first announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in his ‘new deal’ speech in June.

GP investment

The funding is drawn from the primary care transformation fund, previously the infrastructure fund, the £1bn four years investment announced in the 2014 autumn statement.

As previously reported by GPonline, the fund will target practices with poor CQC ratings.

The new guidance issued to NHS England area teams revealed that as well as practices rated ‘inadequate’ and ‘requiring improvement’ by the CQC, commissioners will also use ‘local intelligence’ to decide which practices should receive support based on a set of 15 criteria .

The guidance said the approach placed ‘primacy on local commissioners being best placed to identify and prioritise practices for support while ensuring there is a consistent approach across England.’

Map: GP CQC ratings

Criteria commissioners will consider include individual professional performance issues, patients per GP, list closure applications, LMC concerns, and professional isolation. 

NHS England’s director of NHS commissioning Rosamond Roughton said: ‘We want to secure improvements in vulnerable GP practices to help build resilience in primary care and to support delivery of new models of care. This will provide support to practices under pressure ensuring patients have continued access to high quality care.’

CCGs and area teams will be required to draw up lists of practices. ‘Prioritisation should be made on the basis of local intelligence and judgment as to where the greatest impact can be achieved from the available funding this year,' the guidance said.

NHS England area teams will have to confirm the practices to receive support by 28 January.

The support, however, must not be used to ‘support unsustainable models of care or practices that fail to engage with local CCG plans for primary care’, the document said.

The guidance also confirmed that the RCGP’s peer support programme for practices rated inadequate will be expanded.

GPonline revealed in April that poor CQC ratings were linked to poor funding. Practices rated 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' by the CQC receive around £50,000 a year below national average funding, analysis showed. 

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