• Some GP federations did not fall within precise wording of contract specifications
  • Concerns confusions may have led to CCGs delaying network agreement sign offs
  • PCN registration forms due to be submitted to CCGs today

NHS England has changed the rules around what entities are allowed to be fund holders for primary care networks, HSJ has learned.

Contract specifications sent out by NHSE in April said the “single nominated practice or provider” looking after the money must be a member of the network and therefore hold a primary care contract. This excluded some GP federations from the role.

However, HSJ understands NSHE is working with commissioners and partners in primary care to clarify that GP federations can perform the role. 

“I think NHSE are clarifying the position because there are lots of networks who would like their federation to be able to hold PCN funds on behalf of the network,” Beccy Baird, senior fellow in health policy at the King’s Fund, told HSJ. “But the legal and tax issues are really complex and have caused confusion.”

“[CCGs] have been unsure whether they can sign off a network agreement which has a federation as the fund holder,” she explained.

GP Federations are groups of practices coming together to provide a wider range of care services and back office functions to their practices.

The PCNs are due to submit their registration forms by the end of today to their CCGs, including details about which constituent practice will act as the network’s banker.

This designated fund holder is meant to receive new funding streams from the centre and hold them on behalf of network colleagues.

It distributes the funds to other members of the network when required – for example, to supplement the salaries of additional staff that will be available to networks from 1 July

HSJ approached NHS England for comment.

Update: the article was updated on 15 May at 13.38 to clarify PCNs are due to submit registration papers.