PCN incentive scheme targets that were deferred this month will resume in April, including a target to offer patients appointments within two weeks.
NHS England announced last month that it would immediately retire or defer until next year four investment and impact fund (IIF) indicators, but it remained unclear when in 2023/24 they would restart.
Now NHS England has confirmed that it has deferred three indicators until April 2023.
These incentive scheme targets measure:
- The percentage of patients who waited two weeks or less for an appointment
- The number of online consultation submissions received by the PCN per registered patient
- The number of emergency admissions on or after 1 October per adult care home resident
Two took effect from 1 April this year, while the target around emergency admissions was due to start from 1 October – just days after the announcement.
NHS England scrapped a fourth indicator focusing on identifying and tackling health inequalities entirely, which had also started in April this year.
But NHS England confirmed that no payments have yet been made to PCNs on work already completed against the indicators because performance is assessed at the end of the financial year.
The move to defer or scrap the PCN incentive scheme targets came as part of a set of measures designed to relieve practice workload over the winter, with the £37m linked to them to be reallocated to PCNs via a monthly payment from this month until the end of March.
It came in the wake of health secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey’s new plan for patient access that included two-week GP appointment targets and the new publication of practice-level appointment data in a bid to improve access to GP practices.
NHS England has also asked integrated care boards (ICBs) to identify where to allocate potential additional winter support funding to GP practices and PCNs in their area – if such funding were to materialise – with a focus on areas with deprivation and recruitment challenges.
And it announced further changes to the IIF, as well as to the additional roles scheme, and scrapped the controversial shared decision-making training for all PCN clinical staff.