NHS England has extended the deadline for PCNs to submit their local capacity and access plans to their integrated care board (ICB) to 30 June.
The delay will give PCNs a further seven weeks to develop their plans to improve access in order to receive a share of the £73.8m available under the Capacity and Access Payment (CAP).
NHS England confirmed the delay in an update to the PCN DES on Thursday (27 April) but some PCN clinical directors do not believe this will be helpful and may even add more work.
Dr Laura Mount, clinical director for Central and West Warrington PCN, said: ‘The extension just means that a deeper level of data and complexity of submission is now being requested. We had already spent considerable time on this working towards the deadline. This just now means we have to spend even further resource on this.’
Another flagged that the absence of the anticipated general practice recovery plan has interfered with developing the CAP plans.
Dr Geetha Chandrasekaran, clinical director North Halifax PCN, said that this issue was raised at local discussions as the general practice recovery plan has not been published yet these access plans cannot tie in with any future direction for general practice.
‘From our PCN, we have already got a draft so an extension is not as useful: our local ICB want our plans by 19 May anyway so they can advise on them,’ she added.
Dr Sarit Ghosh, clinical director for Enfield Unity PCN, similarly added that PCNs ‘won’t know the benefit of the extension’ until the recovery plan comes out.
Initially outlined in a March update to the GP contract, the CAP – which also includes a guaranteed, unconditional £172.2m payment for PCNs – consists of the funding previously available to PCNs via the scrapped investment and impact fund (IIF) indicators.
To secure a portion of the funding pot, PCNs will be expected to address ‘any identified barriers to improvement or wider support required and link to local support offers for integrated primary care’.
This includes outlining how they intend to improve patient experience via the patient survey and the friends and family test; adopting cloud-based telephony systems; and accurately recording data.
In its update, NHS England said: ‘To receive all of the funding a PCN should have demonstrated improvement or be able to demonstrate that high levels of achievement have been sustained through the year across all three key areas.’
Initially, PCNs had been given until 12 May – just six weeks – to submit their plans to their commissioner.
In February, the national commissioner confirmed it is working on a primary care recovery plan similar to the plan published in 2022 for elective and urgent care.
But despite reports last month that both the recovery and long-awaited workforce plans were expected to come in the coming weeks, they are yet to be published.