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Almost all GP practices sign up to new primary care network contract

NHS England has announced that almost all GP practices across England have signed up to the new Primary Care Network (PCN) contract for next year, entitling them to receive a share of £500m of extra investment annually to employ more staff and deliver more services in or near to people’s homes.

The total investment sum, as part of the new PCN contract, will see £1.4bn in additional funding granted by 2023/24, helping to deliver an additional 26,000 workforce roles.

As a result, millions of patients across the country are set to continue to benefit from additional action to spot cancer early, more joined up care for patients with chronic disease, extra NHS support for care home residents and easier access to medication reviews.

First set out in the NHS Long Term Plan last year, primary care has been at the forefront of the NHS response to coronavirus and seen the transformation of services further accelerated.

Providing resilience where staff have been absent, providing remote consultations, enabling collaborative arrangements for coronavirus assessment hubs and enabling a multidisciplinary team approach covering GP, pharmacy and community services to support care homes have all been shining examples of the focus and investment into primary care during the current coronavirus outbreak.

Under the new agreement between GPs and the NHS, patients will see improved care delivered in a wide array of ways, including:

  • Additional support for care home residents – clinicians will carry out weekly check ins to care homes and each PCN will have a clinical lead for care homes in their area. Already, as part of general practice’s response to the COVID pandemic, 100% of care homes now have an identified clinical lead with over 99% of practices now incorporating weekly care home resident check ins.
  • More clinical pharmacists – helping people taking multiple or complex medications (polypharmacy) receive regular structured medication reviews to ensure their medication works better for them.
  • Improved early cancer diagnosis – as part of the NHS Long Term Plan ambition to save more lives by improving early cancer diagnosis rates, PCNs will improve the referral process, increase screening uptake, and to better understand local populations and what they can do to support earlier cancer diagnosis.

Doctors, nurses and frontline clinicians will benefit with increased numbers of staff in general practice. As part of the reformed Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, NHS England and NHS Improvement will reimburse 100% staff salaries of ten additional general practice roles such as clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, physician associates, dieticians and health and wellbeing coaches to help provide patients with the care they need by an appropriate specialist.

NHS Medical Director for Primary Care Nikki Kanani, who is also a London GP, said: “Many have already benefited from improved care thanks to the commitment of general practice staff to work in collaboration locally: people get the care they need with the right professional, and clinicians such as GPs get greater support and increased numbers of frontline staff working in practices.

“The determination from everyone to put general practice on a stronger footing so that it can deliver the services patients need has been extremely encouraging – we benefited from extensive engagement with the proposals on this and I’m pleased that we can now move forward together and deliver on our shared goals to provide extra support for practices that need it, large or small.

“I’d like to thank all general practice staff for their hard work to get primary care to this point.”

Ruth Rankine, Director of the NHS Confederation’s PCN Network, added: “This is great news for primary care and for patients. PCNs are absolutely key to delivering the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan, ensuring that patients, irrespective of where they live, get access to the same services whilst giving PCNs the flexibility to respond to the needs of their local population.”

According to the NHS England data, 98% of GP practices in England have signed up to the new PCN contract, representing near complete coverage for patients across the country.


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