Practice managers have raised concerns about a lack of funding to support them in setting up primary care networks (PCNs).
The additional funding of £1.50 per patient provided as part of the new GP contract will come in from April, after practices have signed up to networks.
However, this funding requires a network to first submit a registration form to its CCG by 15 May and all its member practices to be signed up to the direct enhanced services (DES).
Practice managers at the Londonwide LMCs Annual Conference on Tuesday (12 March) flagged the need for funding that would be available before the PNC form has to be submitted – in time to make practical arrangements to help them navigate the registration process.
No provision before April
The practice managers argued that there was no provision to help them understand what they must deliver before their practice can be approved as part of a network.
Flora Keyamo, a practice manager in Mitcham, said that both managers and GPs find it difficult to go through the GP contract properly because they ‘are overburdened and don’t have time’.
She argued that there should be ‘funding thrown down for GPs and administrators to take time off, read this document, understand and actually know what the expectations are before we get down to the nitty gritty’.
She added: ‘Sometimes partners do not understand the new contract [even] at the end of the contract. So it’s very important that when you are making these changes that you actually factor in time to ensure we understand what you want us to do.’
Another practice manager said they would need an away day within their network to help them understand the requirements they will need to meet before making a PCN bid to their CCG. She added, however, that there is no money available to enable this.
The funding, the practice managers argued, would not only be necessary to help organise activities such as away days focusing on the contract and PCN requirements, but to arrange cover for staff being out of the office for this reason.
£1.50 per patient after signing up to networks
Chief executive of the Londonwide LMCs Dr Michelle Drage said ‘a series of papers that slim it right down’ had been issued to help practices understand the contract and that the £1.50 per patient provided to networks is ‘designed to help address some of that’.
The NHS Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance 2019/20 clarifies that CCGs are required ‘to commit a recurrent £1.50/head recurrently to developing and maintaining primary care networks’.
Speaking at the event, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said practices and networks will have control of this funding.
He said: ‘Don’t listen to those who say, “We’ve predetermined what this money is going to be used for.” This is for you, to determine how you use that funding to make your network viable.
‘It might be that you use it to support practice manager activity, or other types of activity going on within your network.’
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, an executive member of the BMA GP committee, said payments were also available ‘outside the PCN aspect of it which come straight through to the practice’, such as the global sum uplift which this year represents 92p per patient.
The Londonwide LMCs Annual Conference was held prior to the publication of The primary care network handbook, released by the BMA yesterday (March 14).