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Digital pathways framework cancelled by NHS England

Digital pathways framework cancelled by NHS England
By Beth Gault
6 June 2024

The digital pathways framework will no longer be published by NHS England, it has confirmed.

The framework was going to help ICBs, PCNs and practices deliver the modern general practice access plan, providing a list of approved tools that would be available to practices for functions including booking, messaging and online consultations.

One ICB digital transformation clinical lead in Cheshire and Merseyside ICB, Dr Tom Micklewright, previously called it a ‘free shopping catalogue’ for primary care.

It was set to launch in February but was later delayed until at least June due to ongoing legal action.

An NHS England spokesperson confirmed to Healthcare Leader that the framework would no longer be published and that ICBs will be expected to support PCNs and practices with navigating the digital market.

They said: ‘Thanks to the NHS’s plan for recovering access to primary care, more GP surgeries have the latest tech to make access easier for patients.

‘Although a framework is not now how we are taking this work forward, practices can still secure the higher quality digital solutions they need with the help of ICBs, using the additional investment provided by the plan.’

Around £240m was ‘retargeted’ to help the transition for PCNs and practices to the modern general practice access model which was set out in the recovery plan. This money was expected to cover a four-year period between January 2024 and 2028, with £48m available for ICBs in 2024/25.

The model comprises a move to digital telephony, making online requests simpler, offering faster navigation, assessment and responses for patients. It was intended to address the ‘8am rush’ in GP practices.

ICBs will continue to enable PCNs and practices to use in-year funding through the primary care access recovery plan.

Healthcare Leader understands that further options of suppliers of digital pathways products will be confirmed by NHS England in due course.

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