GP practices across England will benefit from NHS England’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund, which will see investment to expand and improve out of hospital care for patients, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens has announced.
Speaking at the National Association of Primary Care Annual Conference in Birmingham, and to mark 'NHS Change Day', Mr Stevens said the action will support, sustain and expand GP and primary care services.
Nearly 300 new schemes across the country will be supported this year, subject to passing a set of due diligence checks. This follows 560 schemes that have already been completed and 316 that are in the process of completion, meaning patients and staff are already benefitting from improved facilities. A number of larger-scale schemes are also planned for completion in future years.
The first set of 300 schemes unveiled for support in principle this year are in the Midlands and the East, with others being added at the end of October, subject to due diligence checks.
Mr Stevens also announced the first stage of delivery of expanded psychological therapies in primary care for patients with long-term conditions including diabetes or COPD. This to kick start the commitment to fund an extra 3,000 mental health therapists in GP practices.
NHS England has also announced it will award more than £11 million in 2016/17 and over £24 million 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. They are expected to start seeing patients within the next three months. Many people with anxiety disorders or depression also have a long-term condition like diabetes or COPD. A pilot showed that treating people’s physical and mental health problems in an integrated way can lead to better outcomes for people’s mental health and their management of their long-term condition.
Mr Stevens also launched a £5 million 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. It meets a key commitment in the General Practice Forward View and 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 GP Forward View.”