NHS England has published guidance confirming further local recurrent funding to improve and increase capacity in general practice.
Contributing towards the previously announced ambition of the General Practice Forward View to invest an extra £2.4 billion in services by 2020/21, it was announced that £138 million will be streamed into the area by 2017/18 increasing to £258 million by 2018/19.
For the current financial year, the funding is being made available to the General Practice Access Fund pilot schemes (formerly the Prime Minister's Challenge Fund) and a number of others measures designed to accelerate delivery of improving GP access in 2017/18.
From April 2019, every clinical commissioning group can expect a minimum additional £6 per head to improve access to GP service, enabling them to commission extra services and making the most of new technologies and the wider workforce, NHS England said.
"We know that general practice is under pressure and we are determined to maintain the momentum in turning things around, as started with the launch of the General Practice Forward View," said Arvind Madan, NHS England's Director of Primary Care. The new planning guidance "demonstrates the steps we will be taking with CCGs to both stabilise and transform GP services in the years to come, for the benefit of staff and patients."
For the first time, the new planning guidance places a requirement on CCGs to develop local action plans detailing how they will deliver on the aims set out in the General Practice Forward View, particularly on how they will invest funds to support general practice, which NHS England says is a crucial part of delivering the overall vision for the local area.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has welcomed the plans.
"This is an important next step as we work towards tangible delivery of the pledges in the GP Forward View," she said, adding: "The £171m tranche of funding through CCGs directly into general practice, starting from 2017-18, should make a real and positive impact on the working lives of frontline GPs and the services we provide to our patients".
"This is particularly significant as it is in addition to other funding through the core contract and CCGs will not be allowed to siphon it off into other parts of the NHS".