Executive summary

The NHS provides general practices with digital services as required by the GP Contract and the CCG Practice Agreement. Details of how these digital services should be provided, the standards they should meet and how they are funded are published in this document, also known as the “GP IT Operating Model”.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have devolved responsibility to provide these services to their practices and this document provides a regularly updated commissioning framework to assist CCGs in this. CCGs and their commissioned GP IT Delivery Partners should make full use of this guidance to ensure their practices are fully supported with world class digital services. By necessity this is a comprehensive and consequently lengthy document. Practices will find the general practice quick reference section helpful in using this document.

The six challenges identified in the previous version of this document remain equally relevant today. One of these challenges is keeping practices and their patients safe and elements addressing cyber security, information governance and patient safety have been reviewed and updated.

Following the general practice response to the COVID-19 pandemic a number of significant additions have been included:

  • Remote access as a means of enhancing practice efficiency and resilience will be available to support at least 60% of normal practice operational capacity. CCGs and practices must review and ensure only robust and cyber safe methods of remote access are used.
  • Online and video consultations will continue to be encouraged and are now supported as a mandated digital service.
  • GP telephony systems remain the responsibility of the individual practice but additions have been made to encourage and assist practices move away from legacy telephone systems to advanced cloud based VoIP systems. This includes a draft GP advanced telephony specification commissioning support pack.
  • The importance of resilience and business continuity for practices and also for the commissioned GP IT Delivery Partners. CCGs should review practice Business Continuity Plans in the context of the experiences of the pandemic response, including how digital technologies can better support practice resilience.

These changes will also support pressures on general practice already recognised before the pandemic arising from growing patient demand and workforce challenges.

Funding sources and allocations have changed in particular to support digital transformation in general practice. Full details are provided in Primary care SDF and GP IT funding guidance 2021/22. PCN staff IT needs are now aligned and included with the GP IT revenue and capital allocations.

Not all digital services are centrally commissioned. Integrated care systems, primary care networks and individual practices can now make use of a number of assets included in the appendices i.e. lists of relevant purchasing frameworks, a procurement checklist and a commissioning support pack (with template specifications) for GP IT enabling services and for advanced GP telephony services.

The Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance Model will continue to develop and underpin the tracking of local and national progress in meeting the mandated requirements in this Operating Model and other enhanced and transformational digital improvements.

In the evolving landscape of local healthcare delivery general practices are developing innovative and different ways of structuring and delivering services. This document provides guidance on supporting sub-contracted practice services, and supporting practice organisations working across multiple CCGs.

As the integrated care systems become established this document will continue to support general practice but will be revised as necessary to align to new and evolving arrangements. It is expected that the revisions will be significant for the next iteration.

Guidance contents

Download a PDF copy of ‘Securing Excellence in Primary Care (GP) Digital Services: The Primary Care (GP) Digital Services Operating Model 2021-2023’