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Introduction of services delayed due to pressures on general practice

by Costanza Pearce
25 August 2021

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The introduction of the controversial PCN anticipatory and personalised care services has been deferred until next year, NHS England has announced.

The other two PCN services that were due to start from October this year – tackling CVD diagnosis and prevention and health inequalities – will be introduced in a ‘reduced’ form, it added.

NHS England also announced a further £43m PCN leadership funding for 2021/22, which will include an adjustment for areas of higher deprivation.

It comes after NHS England last week told the BMA it was considering the deferral of the four new PCN service specifications that were due to start in October.

In a letter to GP practices, published today, NHS England announced the ‘gradual introduction’ of new service requirements for PCNs in light of the ‘pressures’ facing general practice.

It said: ‘Taking into account the immediate pressures on general practice, and in line with NHS England’s letter to GPC England of 18 August 2021, we are now setting out a plan for the gradual introduction of new service requirements for PCNs and confirming how PCNs will access the significant funding available for their activities through the IIF across the second half of 2021/22 and 2022/23.’

It confirmed that the ‘main implementation focus’ will be 2022/23 rather than 2021/22 ‘so that PCNs have the maximum possible time to prepare’.

The letter said that the introduction of all requirements for both the anticipatory care and personalised care services will be ‘deferred’ until 2022/23.

However, it added that there will be three ‘areas of focus’ for personalised care from April 2022, including supporting ‘digitised care and support planning’ for care home residents.

And PCNs will be required to ‘agree a plan’ for the delivery of the anticipatory care service with their ICS and local delivery partners by 30 September 2022, in line with ‘forthcoming national guidance’, it said.

PCNs will also have to ‘identify and engage a population experiencing health inequalities within their area’ from October 2021 and ‘codesign an intervention’ to address their ‘unmet needs’, it added.

Delivery of the intervention will start from March 2022, it said.

Four extra PCN services – covering CVD diagnosis and prevention, tackling inequalities and the controversial personalised care and anticipatory care services – were due to be brought in as early as October.

But last month the BMA revealed it had met with health minister Jo Churchill, urging her to delay the four upcoming PCN services this autumn until April 2022 over workload concerns.

The original PCN contract required GPs to deliver five of the seven PCN service specifications in 2020/21, but the personalised care and anticipatory care services were delayed. The network services covering CVD diagnosis and prevention, and tackling inequalities were originally planned for introduction in 2021/22. 

A version of this story originally appeared in our sister title, Pulse.