Latest updates

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

In September NHS England and NHS Improvement published an updated Network Contract DES Specification and Network Contract DES Guidance. The changes cover areas such as;

  • 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

In addition, guidance has been published for the Investment and Impact Fund and for Structured Medication Reviews (SMR).

The 2020/21 General Medical Services (GMS) contract Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) was also updated.

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 established a new General Practice Covid Capacity Expansion Fund. £150 million of revenue is being immediately allocated through ICS to CCGs for general practice, for the purpose of supporting the expanding general practice capacity up until the end of March 2021

We have made an additional £15.4 million 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 £43.7 million funding for 2020/21.

We recently 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:

We announced that child and social care support was now available for returning GPs as part of the GP Induction and Refresher scheme.

Offered time-limited support to cover recruitment and induction costs for additional Network  DES-funding social prescribing link workers until 31 January 2021.

We have continued to promote the #LookingAfterYouToo – coaching support which is available to all primary care staff.

COVID updates

Long COVID

We launched a  five-point plan to support people with Long COVID. NICE, SIGN and RCGP have now published the scope for the forthcoming guideline on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Guidance to assist local healthcare systems to establish post-COVID assessment clinics has been published on our website. Across the NHS in England, 69 initial assessment services are supporting people with post-COVID syndrome (Long COVID). 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.

COVID vaccine

We have set up a dedicated space for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme on our FutureNHS workspace where you can access the recording and slides from past webinars, ask any further questions and get access to key information

Wider operational updates