NHS England has published the details of its long-awaited General Practice Covid Support Fund, which it said will meet the ‘legitimate additional costs’ caused by the pandemic.
Practices have six weeks to submit claims to their clinical commissioning groups (CCG) for ‘additional’ costs incurred due to the delivery of services to care homes, Bank Holiday opening and cover for staff taking sick leave or shielding on full pay.
However, further details on how practices can claim reimbursement for PPE will be communicated ‘soon’, NHS England said.
The news comes after NHS England had to supply the Treasury with evidence that the pandemic had led to extra costs for practices, delaying the promised reimbursement by several months.
In a letter to practices published last night, NHS England said practices will be reimbursed for ‘additional costs incurred in delivering additional services’ to care homes from 1 May until 30 September.
Practices can now also claim for ‘specific and net additional costs’ caused by opening across Easter and on the 8 May bank holiday, it added.
They will also be able to claim for ‘Covid-19 related absence cover from day one of absence, where it was required to maintain necessary clinical and non-clinical capacity, staff could not work from home and the individual received full pay’, the letter said.
This will apply from 23 March to 31 July, it added.
Six week timescale
The fund will also cover ‘additional capacity’ required between 23 March and 31 July ‘where supported by the commissioner’, as well as the costs of purchasing ‘other consumables’ needed due to the pandemic, the letter said.
It said: ‘Reimbursement may also be sought for other net additional costs incurred as a result of Covid-19 requirements, including the costs of minor physical adjustments to buildings (eg Perspex screens and barriers), additional cleaning materials, and additional clinical equipment (eg pulse oximeters and thermometers).
‘Where a practice has incurred additional net costs not covered by this list, they should discuss this with their commissioner.’
This will cover the period from 1 March to 31 July, it added.
The letter added that practices ‘should submit actual claims within six weeks’.
Reimbursement for PPE
However, NHS England’s letter did not include details of how GPs will be reimbursed for the costs of PPE.
It said: ‘DHSC will be providing funding to cover costs of PPE that practices have had to incur and will communicate further detail about this soon.’
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey welcomed the ‘long overdue’ funding and called on commissioners to ‘act swiftly’ to reimburse practices.
However, he called for the funding to be extended beyond July and for the Government to ‘urgently’ provide details on PPE reimbursement.
He said: ‘This package only covers until the end of July, and as we all know, the fight against Covid-19 is far from over. Both commissioners and NHS England must guarantee that practices will continue to get all of the support and resources they need as we move into the latest phase of the pandemic.
‘Furthermore, DHSC must urgently give practices more details on how they will be reimbursed for extra PPE they have had to acquire when national supplies fell far short of what was needed.’It comes as Pulse revealed that an out-of-hours provider has spent around £100,000 on PPE while awaiting the reimbursement promised by NHS England.
Covid-19 related costs covered by the guidance
- Specific and net additional costs incurred for bank holiday opening across Easter and on 8 May 2020.
- Additional net costs incurred in delivering additional services to care homes, pursuant to our letter of 1 May. This arrangement is in place from 1 May until 30 September 2020.
- Covid-19 related absence cover from day one of absence, where it was required to maintain necessary clinical and non-clinical capacity, staff could not work from home, and the individual received full pay. This will apply from 23 March to 31 July 2020.
- Additional capacity which has been required between 23 March – 31 July 2020 where supported by the commissioner.
- Costs incurred as a result of purchasing other consumables required as a result of Covid-19.
A version of this story first appeared in our sister title Pulse.