Simon Stevens announces boosts for GP practices

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NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has announced action to support GPs and primary care to sustain and expand services.

Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care Annual Conference in Birmingham, and to mark ‘NHS Change Day’, Simon Stevens unveiled the next three actions to implement the General Practice Forward View.

His first announcement covered how GP practices will benefit from NHS England’s multi-million pound Estates and Technology Transformation Fund. The investment boost to GP premises and technology is set to improve and expand out-of-hospital care for patients, a key commitment set out in the General Practice Forward View.

Almost 300 new schemes across the country will be supported this year, subject to passing a set of due diligence checks. 560 of these schemes that have already been completed across the country and 316 schemes are in the process of completion. A number of larger scale schemes are also planned for completion in future years.

Mr Stevens went on to announce the first stage of delivery of expanded psychological therapies in primary care for patients with long term conditions including diabetes or COPD, kickstarting the commitment to fund an extra 3000 mental health therapists in GP practices. NHS England is awarding more than £11m in 2016/17 and over £24m in 2017/18 to fund 30 Clinical Commissioning Groups to improve mental health care for patients with long term conditions through 22 different psychological therapies schemes.  

Thirdly, Mr Stevens launched a £5million scheme to support GPs with indemnity costs for working in GP out-of-hours services and unscheduled care services including NHS 111 to boost services during the busy winter period. The scheme will cover the costs of personal professional indemnity for GPs wishing to undertake additional out-of-hours work up until March 2017, to give them the freedom to work sessions without having to pay additional indemnity costs. This commitment is part of broader work to address the rising costs of indemnity, a growing concern in general practice in recent years.

Mr Stevens said: “The NHS needs strong primary care services, and today we’re taking further practical action to provide GPs with modern surgeries to work from, expanded staff to offer their patients a wider range of mental health care, and better support for GPs who look after patients at evenings and weekends. We meant it when we said GP services are the bedrock of the NHS, and we’re backing that commitment with concrete action to deliver the General Practice Forward View.”