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
- 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 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:
- New to Partnership Payment Scheme
- General Practice Fellowship programme and guidance
- Supporting Mentors Scheme
- Primary care flexible staff pools
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.
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.
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
- The 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) has been updated in December.
- The National flu immunisation programme plan for 2020 to 2021 was published and also the Seasonal influenza DES specification.
- 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 NHS CPCS service specification and toolkit will be refreshed to include GP referrals and will be published in due course.