Clinical commissioning groups will be given responsibility for bidding for future tranches of the primary care infrastructure fund, HSJ can reveal.
- CCGs to be given responsibility for bidding for money from primary care infrastructure fund
- Fund to be broadened to pay for community services as well as GP infrastructure
- BMA criticises the broadening and calls on NHS England to “rescue this faltering programme”
- Renamed from GP infrastructure fund to “primary care transformation fund”
Areas which receive money from the fund will be able to spend it on costs not immediately associated with GP infrastructure projects, as long as they add capacity to community health services.
The British Medical Association has raised strong concerns.
The fund, launched in December as the “primary care infrastructure fund”, is to be renamed the “primary care transformation fund”. GP practices were invited in January to bid for funding, which would be released in £250m tranches over four years.
So far 1,087 GP practices have received £192m from the first tranche of funding.
NHS England is due to announce today that, from 2016-17, CCGs will be in charge of bidding for and deciding how allocations from the fund are spent.
Local commissioners will also now be able to propose schemes which cover more than a year. The bids made for the first tranche of funding earlier this year must be spent by March 2016.
Schemes can also include proposals for funding increased training capacity and improving seven day access.
CCGs will need to submit proposals to NHS England on how they wish to spend the money by February 2016.
An NHS England spokesman said: “CCGs will work with GP practices to identify opportunities for developing existing premises, relocating services to new or existing buildings to provide a wider range of services and better use of existing premises.”
NHS England will publish information about the process for submission by December.
The BMA GP committee said it had major concerns about how resources in the fund this year were being distributed.
Committee chair Chaand Nagpaul told HSJ: “Investment in GP facilities is vital to the long term delivery of patient care in general practice… The promise to allocate £250m annually from 2015-16 to improve GP premises was supposed to address this fundamental problem.
“Unfortunately, the reality on the ground is that the scheme has been fraught with delays and administrative hurdles, with large numbers of promised improvements to GP practices across the country yet to start. We support the extension of the timeline for this process to be completed, but this must apply to the first tranche of funding this year so those who have seen delays are not disadvantaged.
“Just as worryingly, it now appears that some of the funding may now be siphoned off into other projects and priorities. This is simply unacceptable: minister’s promised this funding would improve GP services infrastructure and they should stick to that commitment.
“We now need to ensure that these earmarked resources are deployed to ensure that GP premises are fit and able to deliver effective care, and that is done in the quickest possible timeframe. We will be immediately raising our concerns with NHSE and demanding an explanation of how we are going to rescue this faltering programme.”
John Hearle, joint chair of the Primary Care Premises Forum, which represents private sector GP premises specialists, said: “I’m a bit concerned that this means the money doesn’t just have to go on infrastructure.”
Earlier this year NHS England director of primary care commissioning David Geddes admitted that the first year of investment had been a “rush”.
Dr Geddes said that the national body would look to adopt a more “strategic approach” in its deployment of future of the funding.
He added: “For the next three years, we’re not looking at this as being another three lots of one year funding… we’re looking at a three year strategy.”