Debunked: the General Practice Resilience Programme 2018/2019

The General Practice Resilience Programme aims to help struggling practices to be more sustainable; here’s how it is being implemented in 2018/2019

The GP and primary care crisis is a hot topic in medical news and has been for some time. With increasing patient demand, escalating admin, limited resources and staff burnout; primary care needs both funding and transformation. Therefore, in 2016, the NHS launched the General Practice Resilience Programme (GPRS) as part of its General Practice Forward View.

The programme aimed to provide £40 million over 4 years (until 2020) to support struggling GP practices and to build resilience into the system- to make surgeries sturdier, more sustainable and therefore better equipped to deal with challenges when they arise. This ensures that a high quality of care for patients is maintained.

The menu of support is extensive, meaning that the programme can help GP practices that are at risk of closure or that need more transformational support. This might include aiding practices in offering new models of care, such as:

  • Diagnostic services to quickly identify areas for improvement support
  • specialist advice and guidance in certain fields, for example human resources or IT
  • Training, supervision or mentorship
  • Practice management capacity support
  • Rapid intervention and management support for practices at risk of closure
  • Co-ordinated support to help practices struggling with workforce issues
  • Change management and improvement support to individual practices or group of practices

The GPRS recognises that, if one practice in a specific area is struggling, then others in the vicinity will have to accommodate by absorbing dissatisfied patients into their own care. GP practices, therefore, do not operate in isolation: and the GPRS offers support to all practices affected by a struggling surgery.

Much of the £40 million has already been spent, but £8 million remains for both 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.

Following its first year of implementation in 2016/2017, NHS England has collaborated with the RCGP, British Medical Association (BMA), General Practitioners Committee (GPC) and NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHS CC) to consider how best to spend this money in 2018/2019 and beyond.

As documented in The General Practice Resilience Programme 2018-19, here are some of the key ways the NHS plan to evolve and implement the above menu of support to serve practices in the here and now:

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Rapid intervention and management support for practices at risk of closure

This is not just about working with practices with poor CQC ratings. It has expanded to include ‘immediate clinical capacity needs, assuring and supporting continuing operations and coordinating additional improvement needs to help with operational delivery and effectiveness.’

Specialist advice and guidance – e.g. Operational HR, IT, Management, and Finance

‘The programme funding can be used to secure expert advice and support on delivering any operational changes (e.g. help with demand and capacity planning, effective use of operational systems and processes including help to release capacity)’, the report said.

It has also been decided that, from 18/19 onwards, IT hardware and software will not be funded through the programme.

This is because both require updating and GPRP funding is ‘time-limited’.

Coordinated support to help practices struggling with workforce issues

‘It has been recognised that maintaining clinical sessions is a priority for practices struggling with workforce issues (e.g. sudden critical vacancies, sickness, and long-term vacancies) and increasing competition for a diminishing workforce can escalate workforce challenges in local areas’, the report said.

‘The funding can be used flexibly to secure practical workforce support… Alternatively, it can be used to establish post(s) in regional teams with responsibility for (and attached to) a locality, working with practices to help plan, coordinate and match their recruitment needs and opportunities.’

Change management and improvement support to individual practices or group of practices

Providing dedicated project or change management support to help practice’s devise more resourceful or sustainable methods of working.

‘The GPRP funding can be used to target support at groups of practices including support for local strategic planning, future vision and review of practice business models, help to identify and realise opportunities to working at scale, succession planning, facilitating premises improvements,’ the report said.

It is true that the NHS still have a long way to go to improve employee fulfilment and patient satisfaction. However, hopefully with these changes to the GPRS, the condition of primary care will continue to improve.

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