Each CCG will be required to decide on the most appropriate approach to local prioritisation. CCGs may wish to develop a joint plan with others in their Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.
CCGs’ plans for this project (excluding Greater Manchester, Surrey Heartlands and Accountable Care Systems) will need to be approved by the NHS England regional team in order for funding to be released.
Plans should set out how the new service will be promoted and publicised to patients, including through the use of both digital and paper-based methods. They should also describe the approach that will be taken to engaging with practices’ patient participation groups in planning and rolling out online consultations.
Support for planning is available from the primary care transformation team, regional IT leads and the Patient Online team in each region. The planning process is illustrated below:
CCGs in Accountable Care Systems (ACSs) and devolved areas will submit baseline information about the number of practices currently offering online consultations, via the GPFV Monitoring Survey. Data about uptake will be collected as part of this monitoring system, as for other CCGs.
CCGs are strongly encouraged to liaise with practices and the local medical committee in agreeing the plan for using this fund. A series of webinars will provide an opportunity to discuss the support that is available. NHS England’s regions will support CCGs and assess whether plans are robust and cost effective. Funding will be released by NHS England when its regional teams are satisfied that plans are adequate and effective.
When developing a local plan, CCGs should consider the following areas:
- Investment. Will additional funding be provided alongside this national fund, for example as part of work to improve access and stabilise general practice? How will the CCG support practices to continue use of online channels beyond the period of this nationally provided funding?
- Alignment. How could the use of this funding be aligned with wider planning for IT investment and service transformation? How do plans at CCG level align with wider Sustainability and Transformation Partnership plans for technology investment, self-care, improving access and delivering integrated urgent and emergency care? CCGs and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships should develop plans for online consultations as part of the wider regional strategy for online NHS services.
- Baseline. How many practices are currently using online consultations?
- Interest. How many of your practices want to draw on the funding each year?
- Phasing. Will the fund have more impact if funding is made available to different practices in each year, rather than spreading it among every practice every year?
- Disposal. How will the funding be distributed, given the level of interest? Where there is significant interest, will be it preferable for all interested practices to receive money each year, or to provide a larger sum to each practice but for a shorter period?
- Procurement. How can the best specialist procurement advice be sought, for example from a CSU or the national Commercial and Procurement Hub?
- Realising the benefits. How will the CCG look to support practices use these tools in the most effective ways?
In the event of a CCG anticipating an underspend of this fund, it is recommended that practices are offered support for implementing new ways of working that make best use of their online consultation system. For example, funding could be provided for backfill or additional project management capacity.
This funding is being allocated solely for the purposes described above. It cannot be used for any other purpose. The funding is to be used in line with existing financial instructions. As referenced in GP IT Operating Model arrangements, CCGs should ensure clear standing financial instructions (SFIs) are established.
CCGs will report progress on deployment of this fund as part of the wider programme to monitor implementation of the General Practice Forward View. Full details will be confirmed in due course. Monitoring will be via Unify and include a quarterly report on:
- Spend to date
- Uptake by practices
- Use by patients (number of consultations and age groups)
Feedback will be provided to allow practices and CCGs to review their progress on uptake by practices and usage by patients, and learn from the most successful parts of the country.
A review of the CCG’s forward plan, alignment with Sustainability and Transformation Plans and progress to date will be included in NHS England’s discussion with each CCG about the release of funding in 2018/19 and 2019/20. This will be included as part of the ongoing overview of General Practice Forward View delivery.
Find out the process for each region and the local contacts for the NHS England regional and Patient Online teams. If you have any other queries, please visit our contact page.