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.
Contracting and finances
We have written to practices and primary care networks to update on:
- Changes to the provision of routine vaccination and immunisation in general practice from 1 April 2021
- Changes to QOF for 2021/22
An updated version of the QOF guidance has also been published.
The DHSC has published the amended QOF Statement of Financial Entitlements for 2020/21 which provides further information on income protection arrangements for QOF 2020/21.
- The introduction of the Investment and Impact Fund
- The introduction of nursing associate and trainee nursing associate roles to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme
- Flexibility – by exception – for the clinical lead role for care homes to be a non-GP.
The full summary of changes is set out in the covering letter.
The Dispensary Services Quality Scheme (DSQS) was reinstated from 1 August 2020. PCN development funding was made available to integrated care systems (ICSs) and sustainability and transformation partnership (STPs) in August – £43.7 million with supporting guidance.
We sent a letter to practices advising them of changes to the GP contract from 1 October 2020 to implement the agreements reached with the BMA in 2020/21.
We have made an additional £15.4m available to local systems and primary care providers to cover reasonable additional costs (over and above the usual fee structures) associated with this year’s extended flu programme. Two sets of guidance have been published on how to claim from this funding, one for NHS regional teams and community pharmacies, and one for NHS regional teams and general practices.
Updated 2020/21 PCN Development Support Guidance builds upon the guidance published in 2019/20. It sets out the PCN development priorities for 2020/21 and guidance about utilisation of national £43.7m funding for 2020/21.
We sent a letter detailing the further support we are taking to free up GPs, practice teams and PCNs to advance the vaccine rollout.
Growing and supporting our workforce
We shared a letter about the need to expand the primary care workforce, with a reminder for all primary care networks to plan to take full advantage of their guaranteed funding.
Practices should use their allocation as soon as possible and can still recruit in the latter half of the year. CCG and system support is available for workforce planning, developing MDTs, rotational employment systems, and recruitment, including social prescriber link workers through VCSE partners or the South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit.
We also launched a number of schemes to help support and sustain the profession:
- New to Partnership Payment Scheme
- General Practice Fellowship programme and guidance
- Supporting Mentors Scheme
- The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) new online portal, which provides a more effective and simple way for PCNs to claim, and CCGs to approve, reimbursement for the roles hired.
The supporting general practice letter of 9 November 2020 referenced support for flexible pools to aid the process of recruiting and deploying GPs. Up to £120,000 per integrated care system (ICS)/sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) has been made available via NHS England and NHS Improvement regions so that virtual pool arrangements can be implemented or augmented at pace.
We have continued to promote the confidential #LookingAfterYouToo – coaching support which is available to all primary care staff. A new offer for managers and leaders #LookingAfterYourTeam is now also available for bookings.
We launched the Primary Care Network (PCN) Dashboard. To access the dashboard, please register here. The dashboard is refreshed when new data sources are updated providing a consistent and current view. It’s accessible to all PCNs and generates shared and comparable views across the country.
Long COVID (post-covid syndrome)
Guidance to assist local healthcare systems to establish post-COVID assessment clinics has been published on our website. The clinics will be available to patients diagnosed with long COVID, whether they were hospitalised or not, enabling physical, cognitive and psychological assessments of those experiencing enduring symptoms. In addition, guidance is available for the Your COVID Recovery platform, a digital, interactive and tailored recovery programme which has been developed by experts to provide rehabilitation support for patients to manage their recovery at home.
The COVID-19 Clinical Risk Assessment Tool is a tool for clinicians that has been designed for use during a consultation with a patient or as an aid to support direct care. It may also be used by clinicians to review patients added to the Shielded Patient List (SPL) as a result of the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment. It is based on the QCovid® model.
We have set up a dedicated space for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme on our FutureNHS workspace where you can access the recordings and slides from past webinars, ask any further questions and get access to key information.
Wider operational updates
- The Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) standard operating procedure has been produced to support the rollout of lateral flow devices for asymptomatic staff testing for COVID-19 in primary care.
- The Standard operating procedure (SOP) for general practice in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) was updated in April 2021.
- Details on the clinical prioritisation and validation of elective waiting lists was published.
- We accelerated the deployment of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Phase 4 which allows EPS to be used for patients without a pharmacy nomination. For most practices, the move requires minimal action, but teams should consult the support materials and readiness checklist.
- GP Referral to Community Pharmacist Consultation Service went live across England. The GP/PCN toolkit has been published which provides a practical guide on implementing the minor illness referral pathway from general practice to NHS CPCS.