An advisory scheme, involving nurse experts, has been launched by the Royal College of General Practitioners to help GP practices “strengthen their resilience” in the face of increasing workload and workforce pressures.
The new service will provide expert advice and guidance for practices, including those that are finding it difficult to recruit GPs, keep pace with patient demand, or are even facing closure.
“Our experts have first-hand experience of how general practice works”
The RCGP has assembled a 70-strong team of “experts” – including GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and pharmacists – who will visit practices, carry out an assessment and recommend a tailored and targeted programme of support to put them back on a more secure footing.
A spokesman for the college told Nursing Times that around five practice nurses were involved in the expert team.
The diagnostic assessment and action plan part of the scheme will cost £7,500 plus VAT per practice. In most cases, the fee will be met by the local clinical commissioning group, suggested the RCGP.
Explaining why it had set up the scheme, the college highlighted that NHS England had pledged £16m for practice resilience in its GP Forward View budget for the current financial year.
But an interim assessment of the programme, published earlier this month by the RCGP, had found only £2.5m of the money had been spent by the end of December 2016 and only 219 of the 1,453 eligible practices had received any of the funding.
The college said it was also calling on NHS England to roll over any underspend from the practice resilience programme at the end of the current financial year, so it could be spent in 2017-18.
RCGP vice chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Our members and their teams on the frontline are crying out for practical support to help them deliver safe and high quality patient care and we hope that our new service will provide a much-needed solution.
“Our experts have first-hand experience of how general practice works and the specific challenges GPs are facing – as well as being able to identify the solutions that are needed so that GP practices and their patients can gain the maximum benefit,” he said.
The RCGP said the scheme followed the success of its peer support programme for practices put in “special measures” by the Care Quality Commission, which had supported 74 practices to date.