Primary care capacity warning as NHS develops 'resilience' plans

NHS organisations have until the end of July to draw up plans to increase primary care capacity following guidance that warns against the system 'running at or near 100%'.

NHS: primary care capacity warning
NHS: primary care capacity warning

The advice comes just weeks after GP leaders at this year’s LMCs conference warned that soaring workload had left primary care services in danger of collapse.

The guidance, drawn up in part by NHS England, calls for better integration of local services and plans for ‘seven-day working across the whole system’.

Local ‘system resilience groups’ (SRGs) are to be launched with new funding to expand the role of urgent care working groups set up to tackle winter crises.

The groups will bring together all local provider, commissioner, and social care organisations.

A guidance document from NHS England, Monitor, the Trust Development Authority, and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said the groups will replace urgent care working groups with an expanded role covering elective as well as non-elective work.

The document said: ‘SRGs are the forum where all the partners across the health and social care system come together to undertake the regular planning of service delivery. The group should plan for the capacity required to ensure delivery, and oversee the coordination and integration of services to support the delivery of effective, high quality accessible services which are good value for taxpayers.’

Setting out the ‘core aspects of good practice that local systems must include in their planning for 2014/15’, the document said of primary care:

‘Additional capacity for primary care, as part of local integrated strategies for supporting out-of-hospital care and wider community services. This should include seven-day working across the whole system, adoption of ambulatory care, and ensuring that where possible, the system is not running at or near 100%. This should also extend to schemes relating to proactive care and avoiding unplanned admissions. Plans should demonstrate comprehensive flu planning in line with guidance published by Public Health England in April 2014/15.’

Groups have been given until 30 July to submit resilience plans to area teams. 

The guidance said funding would be dependent on ‘the inclusion of the principles of good practice in plans’.

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