GP federation network seeks to boost primary care representation amid NHS reforms

The NHS Confederation has set up a national network for GP federations in a bid to boost primary care representation as the government drives through major NHS reforms.

(Photo: Photofusion/Getty Images)

The group, chaired by Fiona Adamson and co-chaired by Dr Andy Hilton, has said it is aiming to create a ‘strong and cohesive primary care voice’ at leadership level amid government plans to scrap CCGs.

In February a government white paper outlined proposals to bring the NHS and local government together legally in integrated care systems (ICSs). But GP leaders have expressed concern that GP influence over shaping health services could diminish as a result.

The Primary Care Federation Network will aim to support GP practices and PCNs to improve access to services and provide enhanced primary care services that meet population needs.

GP federations

It will also work to establish federations where they don’t exist at present and ensure that primary care services continue to be supported during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The network has argued that GP federations can take on responsibilities to support the delivery of primary care - and has stressed their importance in helping to deliver the COVID vaccination campaign.

Federation chairs, chief executives, chief operating officers and other senior managers of federations will be able to sign up to access and receive a range of benefits from the NHS Confederation.

This includes tailored member products, such as bulletins and briefings, as well as opportunities to influence national guidance and forthcoming legislation.

Integrated care systems

Speaking about the creation of the Primary Care Federation Network, Ms Adamson said: ‘Through this new network, we will drive forward a shared vision to provide more integrated, innovative and responsive care for patients, to reduce health inequalities and to improve the health of our local populations.

‘Across the country, many federations are already valued members of their local systems, not only as providers who can offer scale but also bringing ideas, innovation, and connections that will be essential in future.

‘Through the imminent legislation and supporting guidance, this is an exciting time for federations and our practice and PCN partners. I am looking forward to exploring with our members what the role of federations across ICSs and ICPs could be. I would love all federations to sign up so that we can shape this discussion together.’

There are around 200 GP federations in England, with some of the largest including as many as 85 practices - supporting over 600,000 patients.

Primary care leadership

The group behind the new network says the size and leadership role of GP federations makes them well placed to play a key role in discussions across their local systems on behalf of PCNs and practices.

Director of primary care at the NHS Confederation Ruth Rankine, said: ‘Our Primary Care Federation Network will be the voice for federations in England, ensuring that they are appropriately represented and actively involved in shaping future healthcare strategy.

'It will complement our established offer for PCNs, recognising their interdependencies and opportunities for collaboration, as well as their unique positions in the system.’

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall has argued that GPs must have a 'strong voice' within ICSs as they take over CCG budgets and commissioning powers.

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