NHS To ‘Engage’ Public on Digital Transformation Plans

The NHS is set to consult on the most ‘substantial changes in GP contracts since 2004’ and is inviting the public, primary care professionals and innovators to have their say.

With the NHS having celebrated its 70th birthday, it recognises that by the end of the next decade, digital technology is likely to have ‘transformed the service’.

As part of this, they want to ensure that the current GP payment system is ‘fair’ as practices move toward a more digitised era.

On July 4th, Ian Dodge – the National Director of Strategy and Innovation – spoke at NHS England’s board meeting and presented a paper which looked into the ‘number of adjustments’ to the GP payment system.

The paper said that the NHS is facing challenges over the primary care payment system ‘keeps up with the opportunities digital innovations offer’.

It said: “The objective is to ensure that available resources are distributed in as fair a way as possible to general practices, reflecting the patients they serve.”

The report cited a well-known example of a digital-first practice, GP at Hand. List sizes have grown rapidly at the practice, leaving the CCG with facing additional costs of up to £10.6 million. The paper said that the current payment model “was not designed with these models in mind”.

It adds: “There is disquiet in some quarters that digital-first models could result in ‘cream skimming’ by which providers attract or select less complex patients, and that they could thereby benefit from an over-generous share of GP funding, leaving other practices relatively underfunded for the workload associated with their remaining patients.”

This engagement document focuses specifically on how we can ensure that the payment system for general medical services continues to support the development of digital services whilst ensuring that any inequities arising from anomalies in the current payment system are addressed.

It describes a number of possible adjustments to payments and poses questions about how funding may need to change in the future to support digital service delivery.

None of the proposals set out would result in a reduction to total funding for general practice. Instead, these proposals reduce the impact of the redistribution of funding towards digital-first practices, in line with current evidence

Specific proposals for amendments to GP payments include:

- Rurality Index Payment

- London adjustment

- Paying for in-hours urgent primary medical care (including home visits) to out-of-area patients.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “In the year the health service turns 70, we need to take serious steps to address the fundamental issues facing general practice, from workload and workforce pressures to unsustainable indemnity costs and problems with premises. NHS England’s commitment to work with us to address these and other issues which we have repeatedly highlighted is welcome.”

He added: “And while the BMA recognises the many advantages that technology and innovation can provide for general practice, it is important that the implications of its implementation are carefully considered. We welcome the move from NHS England to engage on how this is best achieved.”

The consultation is open until 31st August 2018

If you would like to discuss how RotaMaster can help manage your GP payments, call on 01924 252360 or email enquiries@rotamaster.co.uk