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CCG challenges Babylon’s application to be primary care network

by Anviksha Patel
23 May 2019

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NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG is unable to decide whether to approve Babylon GP at Hand’s primary care network until it seeks ‘additional assurances’.
According to the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee (PCCC), because GP at Hand’s patients are from a wide geographical area, it is not yet possible to make a decision about the proposed primary care network.
NHS England has previously stipulated primary care networks (PCNs) must be based around local boundaries.
But Babylon’s medical director Dr Matthew Noble said for GP at Hand’s patients, it is ‘far better that the network they belong to operates across the capital’ as they live and work in and around London.
The CCG’s latest committee papers, published ahead of its PCCC meeting on 21 May, said: ‘The Babylon GP at Hand PCN population is dispersed over a significantly larger geographic area than other PCNs and while some overlap between PCNs is expected within urban areas, the CCG will need additional assurance in this area.’
GP at Hand is one of five networks that applied to the CCG – but the committee papers point out problems with all of them, meaning none can be approved at this stage.
An NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG spokesperson said: ‘After due consideration, it was concluded that approval for any of the networks is not possible at this time as the whole CCG population is not yet covered by the proposed network configuration.
‘This includes the proposed Babylon GP at Hand primary care network. Hammersmith and Fulham CCG has escalated this issue to NHS England for further advice.’
The papers said: ‘Subject to the committee agreeing that the registrations received cannot be confirmed, the CCG will formally notify the PCNs that their registrations cannot be confirmed and approved and inform them of the reasons and agree a plan for resolution within two to four weeks.’
The Londonwide LMC was concerned when it was revealed that GP at Hand was applying to become a single network, saying that it would ‘disrupt the system to the point of destruction’.
But Dr Noble said: ‘NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG have said that none of the primary care networks can be fully approved as there are currently 16,000 patients and four practices which are not part of any of the proposed networks.
‘We will continue to work with commissioners, community providers and other proposed networks to resolve this issue in the interest of patients.’
He added: ‘Regarding the specific additional issue raised around the Babylon GP at Hand geography, by far the most important consideration for any network is that it benefits its patients.
‘As the more than 50,000 patients who have specifically chosen Babylon GP at Hand live and work across London, it is far better that the network they belong to operates across the capital.’
In yesterday’s papers it was confirmed that the CCG received five network applications but it was ‘currently not possible’ for the committee to approve any of them.
This is due to the five networks not covering four practices with a combined list size of just over 16,000 patients.
Additionally, one network – H&F Central PCN – had an ineligible nominated payee.
The network had nominated the H&F GP Federation as its payee, but it is ineligible as it does not hold a GMS, PMS, or APMS contract, as required by the DES.
The papers stated if the issues could be resolved locally, then NHS England’s regional team would be contacted to ensure networks are approved by 30 June, one day before the Network DES goes live.
Earlier this month, NHS England’s director of primary care Dr Nikita Kanani revealed she was aware of a GP trainee being appointed as clinical director of a network.
This story was first published by sister publication Pulse.