NHS England announces nearly 300 GP premises upgrades across England

New CCG guidance also published on CCG management support for STP implementation, and on joint safeguards following Cambridgeshire UnitingCare contract collapse.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has today announced the full list of nearly 300 GP schemes earmarked for investment from 2016/17 as part of NHS England’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund. Support for these new schemes will be subject to due diligence checks and this follows the publication of schemes in Midlands and the East that were announced in October 2016.

This announcement follows 560 schemes around the country that have already been completed with patients and staff already benefitting from new facilities. Another 316 schemes are also close to completion.

The Estates and Technology Transformation Fund is a multi-million pound investment boost to improve premises and IT infrastructure and expand the range of services for patients. In June 2016, local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) submitted recommendations to NHS England for investment from the Estates and Technology Transformation Fund. Investment will be used across a range of GP premises and technology schemes, in line with CCG estates and digital plans.  Further schemes are planned for future years.

Speaking at the annual conference of NHS Clinical Commissioners, Simon Stevens said: “Today marks the next instalment of our practical action to strengthen GP services, in this case by providing modern buildings in which a wider range of local care can be offered to patients across England.”

NHS England has also published new guidance today (3 November) outlining the tests that will be applied to Clinical Commissioning Groups submitting proposals to merge or combine their managements. It makes clear that there remains a general presumption against mergers unless they can be shown to release staff and resource to support local STP implementation while further cutting administrative costs.

The new guidance  – Procedures for Clinical Commissioning groups to apply for constitution change, merger or dissolution –  provides CCGs thinking about different ways of working across boundaries with clarity about the tests NHS England will apply when considering applications to do so. It includes a list of 11 separate criteria  that CCGs will have to meet for formal merger, as well as prior approval for merger of senior management.

Dr Amanda Doyle, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair and Chief Clinical Officer, NHS Blackpool CCG said: “Our members will welcome this move where it is in the best interests of local populations and enables the system to work in a better, more collaborative way.”

Dr Graham Jackson, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair and Chair of NHS Aylesbury Vale CCG said: “We welcome this guidance which should be seen as a way of supporting and enhancing the strategic evolution of commissioning. Where there is a case for a formal merger of CCGs it must be driven by the local area who have decided it’s the right thing to do.”

Finally, NHS England and NHS Improvement have today published details of the Integrated  Support and Assurance Process ( ISAP) to provide safeguards following Cambridgeshire UnitingCare contract collapse. Further to the NAO inquiry and subsequent report, it sets out a consistent, streamlined process for supporting and assuring procurements for unique and complex contracts.

The Integrated Support and Assurance Process published today guides the work of local commissioners and providers in creating successful and safe schemes and provide a means of joint assurance by NHS England  and NHSI.