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Extra help for struggling GP surgeries

New service will provide expert help to tackle workforce and workload pressures

Mark Gould

Monday, 20 February 2017

An innovative team of experts has been set up to help GP practices who are struggling in the face of increasing workload and workforce pressures.

The new service will provide expert advice and guidance for practices, including those that are finding it difficult to recruit GPs, keep pace with patient demand, or are even facing closure.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has assembled a 70-strong team of GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and pharmacists, who will visit practices, carry out an assessment and recommend a tailored and targeted programme of support to put them back on a more secure footing.

The diagnostic assessment and action plan part of the scheme will cost £7,500 + VAT per practice. The RCGP says that in the majority of cases, this will be met by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), but some practices might choose to approach the College directly and independently of their CCG or NHS England. Commissioners of the service (CCGs and practices) can also opt to instruct the College to deliver the diagnostic assessment in isolation.

The scheme builds on the success of the College’s national Special Measures peer support programme for practices following unfavourable Care Quality Commission inspections - which has supported 74 practices to date. However, practices do not need to be in special measures to be eligible for the RCGP’s new service.

NHS England has pledged £16 million for practice resilience in its GP Forward View (GPFV) budget for the current financial year. But the RCGP’s Interim Assessment of the GPFV published last week revealed that by the end of December 2016, only £2.5 million of this had been spent and only 219 of the 1,453 eligible practices had received any of the funding.

The College is calling on NHS England to roll over any underspend from the Practice Resilience programme at the end of this current financial year, so that it can be spent in the next financial year.

RCGP Vice Chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Our members and their teams on the frontline are crying out for practical support to help them deliver safe and high quality patient care and we hope that our new service will provide a much-needed solution.

“Our ageing population and rapidly increasing patient demand means that many practices are floundering through no fault of their own. The College’s scheme will help them get back on track; in some communities, it could be the vital lifeline they need to guarantee the future of the family doctor service, close to patients’ homes where they want to be treated."

Practices and CCGs wanting more information can contact: rcgpforwardview@rcgp.org.uk

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