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BMA to challenge requirement to keep GP online systems switched on even when at full capacity

by Anna Colivicchi
2 May 2024

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The BMA will ‘challenge’ a contract requirement for GP practices to keep their online systems switched on until 6.30pm regardless of capacity, according to its GP Committee chair.

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer was responding to concerns around practices in England being denied PCN funding if they turn off their online triage systems when their practices are ‘full’.

According to PCN DES documents, from this year online consultation needs to be available for patients to make administrative and clinical requests ‘at least during core hours’ in order for practices to receive full funding from the Local Capacity and Access Improvement Payments (CAIP).  

Dr Bramall-Stainer said that leaving online tools on until 6.30pm ‘irrespective of demand or capacity’ was ‘not raised’ during contract discussions earlier this year and said the GP Committee would ‘challenge’ the requirement.

In its letter to practices about the GP contract changes, NHS England said that each PCN clinical director ‘will need to provide assurance’ to their ICB that these requirements are met. It added these conditions ‘can be met at any point’ during the year and PCNs will receive payment in-year once they are met.

Dr Bramall-Stainer said the BMA is producing a guidance documents on these requirements, which will be published very soon.

Writing on X, she said: ‘Leaving online tools on until 18:30 irrespective of demand or capacity was not raised during discussions. We are challenging this.

‘Note, I might not decide to sign this until for example 28 March 2025. By which time we shall have a new Government. And you’ll still get your funding.

‘I appreciate that those practices facing major cashflow issues won’t have that luxury,’ she added.

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘While we understand practices need time and support to move to Modern General Practice and effectively make changes, practices should be offering patients parity of access regardless of how they contact a practice, whether that is online, by phone or walk in, during core hours, so everyone is treated fairly.’

A version of this article was first published by our sister title Pulse