NHS England’s flagship Time for Care programme has been extended beyond its deadline of March 2019, Management in Practice can exclusively confirm.
Given the success of the programme – which has allowed participating practices to save 295,897 hours of admin time and 176,808 hours of clinical time since its inception – NHS England has decided to extend the scheme beyond March 2019.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘It’s our intention that the Time for Care programme will continue. Business planning discussions and preparations are taking place to that effect for 2019/20 and beyond.’
NHS England said that, given the good track record of the programme, which its currently evaluating the latest phase of, the decision has been taken to extend it.
First introduced in 2016 as part of the GPFV, the programme has to date helped over 1,000 practices in England release time and work more efficiently by sharing guidance and support on how to reduce DNAs, social prescribing, active signposting and new consultation types, among others.
In 2016, the three-year programme was given a fund of £30m, of which £8m was spent in the first year.
Commenting on the extension of the programme, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘There are elements of the Time for Care programme that have been helpful for practices in managing their workload pressures and enabling this to continue will allow more to learn from the experience of others and obtain similar support.’
It is not yet confirmed how much money will be invested into the programme over the next few years as business planning is still underway, according to NHS England.
NHS England is expecting that, as many as 1,659 practices will have taken up the Productive General Practice Quick Start (PGPQS) programme by the end of March 2019. The PGPQS offers practices on-site support on how they can improve their work processes, as part of the Time for Care programme.
NHS England is also procuring a new contract for PGPQS for a further 36 months, with a possible further extension. The estimated total value of the contract is £12m, according to a contract in Tenders Electronic Daily, the European public procurement journal.
Practice Management Network co-chair Steve Williams said: ‘I am pleased that the scheme has been extended.
‘We believe that good innovation comes from sustained investment in staffing. We simply ask that the investment is directed at those that can make a significant difference.’