What’s been happening in general practice?
It’s an incredibly busy time for general practice and continues to be. We’ve summarised some of the key activities for easy reference.
We have set up a dedicated space for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme on our FutureNHS workspace where you can access to all the latest information on the vaccine programme.
We are now ramping up the booster programme due to the threat of the new Omicron variant. Key guidance includes:
- Next steps for the NHS COVID-19 vaccine deployment
- Preparing the NHS for the potential impact of the Omicron variant and other winter pressures
For all the latest information, check out our vaccine web pages.
Infection prevention and control
Public Health England’s infection prevention control (IPC) guidelines remains in place for all staff and patients in hospitals as well as GP practices. Staff, patients and visitors are expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting as well as using face coverings, mask and other personal protection equipment. IPC face covering resources for NHS settings are available to download from Public Health England’s campaign resource centre.
Temporary GP Contract Changes to support the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
A number of changes to the GP contract have been introduced to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme. This includes:
- Changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) in 2021/22
- Changes to the Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) in 2021/22
- Income for the Minor Surgery DES
Standard Contract documentation update
Variations to the standard general medical services contract, the alternative provider medical services contract and the personal medical services agreement have been added to the GP contracts page. The variation notices vary the contract/agreement to include the general practice pay transparency obligations (as required by the relevant regulations/directions). However, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has confirmed the implementation of general practice pay transparency is delayed until at least Spring 2022.
The NHS is gearing up to face a very challenging winter, with access to general practice an essential part of winter plans. We need to ensure that general practice has the support, technology and time to deliver the right care for patients in the right way and at the right time.
Further information can be found in: Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice.
Resources and guidance are also available to help practices communicate with patients about the best ways of getting in touch with them when they need help.
Staff respect assets
Materials and guidance are now available to download for use in primary care settings to encourage patients to treat NHS staff with respect. They include posters, social media graphics and display screen graphics. A poster template is also available that allows practices to feature photographs of their own staff and teams with the same messages.
Growing and supporting our workforce
We have suite of interlocking GP recruitment and retention initiatives available to help support and sustain the general practice workforce including:
- New to Partnership Payment Scheme – extended into 2022/23 and 6-month deadline removed
- General Practice Fellowship programme
- Supporting Mentors Scheme
- Primary care flexible staff pools – the framework for digital solutions to support these has been published
The GP Career Support Hub supports GPs during the different stages of their career.
Workforce planning and recruitment to the primary care workforce continues to be a key priority. The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) online portal provides a more effective and simple way for PCNs to claim, and CCGs to approve, reimbursement for the roles hired. Further information to support recruitment into these roles is available on FutureNHS.Coaching and wellbeing support
Our confidential Looking After You coaching support is available for all primary care staff. The three services have been designed to be easily accessible and tailored to individual needs. Experienced coaches can help people with their wellbeing, reflect on career goals and ambitions, and support leaders to manage their teams.
There is a range of additional support offers in place to suit a range of different health and wellbeing needs, including:
- Support lines and wellbeing apps
- Our FutureNHS space has wellbeing support and advice for managing patients
- Winter workforce and preparedness guidance for line managers and support for colleagues with Long Covid
The expanded flu vaccination programme continues this year as part of our wider winter planning when we are likely to see both influenza and COVID-19 in circulation. Alongside the usual eligible groups, all 50-64 year olds are again to be offered the flu vaccination. The programme has also been expanded into secondary schools up to Year 11.
We published the two Enhanced Service Specifications for the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programme 2021/22. This follows the publication of the Annual Flu letter on 17 July 2021.