Primary care networks (PCNs) will receive 100% reimbursement for all additional clinical staff – including six new roles – recruited from April 2020 under the new GP contract.
Previously, networks were able to receive only 70% of the funding for certain clinical staff, meaning they had to make up the shortfall themselves.
However, officials have confirmed networks that have already paid the 30% extra to hire clinical staff in 2019/20 will not have this pay backdated.
They expect the money saved – which it is understood was previously being passed on from the £1.50 per head contribution from CCGs – to be used to support clinical directors instead.
The announcement comes as the BMA secured an updated GP contract with NHS England last Thursday.
Under the five-year contract announced last year, networks were to receive 70% of the funding to employ a pharmacist, a paramedic, a physiotherapist and a physician associate, and 100% of the funding for a hiring social prescriber, by 2023/24.
Six more roles will now be added to the scheme from April ‘at the request of PCN clinical directors’ – pharmacy technicians, care coordinators, health coaches, dietitians, podiatrists and occupational therapists.
PCNs can choose to recruit from the expanded list to ‘make up the workforce they need’, the contract said.
The document added that mental health professionals, including Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) therapists, will be added from April 2021 following current pilots.
NHS England will also explore the feasibility of adding advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) to the scheme.
Reimbursement for the additional staff will increase from the current 70% to 100% for all roles from April – expanding the scheme by 6,000 to 26,000 extra staff funded by the Government.
For the ‘average’ PCN this equates to around seven full-time equivalent (FTE) staff through an average reimbursement pot of £344,000 in 2020/21, rising to 20 FTE staff funded by £1.13 million in 2023/24, according to NHS England.
However, the updated scheme reflects increased flexibility, with each PCN allocated a single combined maximum reimbursement sum based on its weighted population share from April 2020/21.
The move to 100% reimbursement is designed to ‘free up’ the £1.50/head funding that CCGs have been required to contribute to networks – which it was believed was being used to pay for the extra 30% towards clinical role salaries.
Instead, this money will now be used to support clinical directors, by ‘increasing the contribution to clinical director time by almost 50%’.
Recruitment of the 26,000 additional roles is a ‘top priority’ and PCNs are ‘encouraged to take immediate action’ with the support of their CCG – for example through collective or batch recruitment – the contract added.
PCNs must indicate the number of each additional reimbursable roles they intend to recruit and by when they plan to do so to their CCG by 30 June 2020.
Lancashire and Cumbria LMCs chief executive Peter Higgins said the 100% reimbursement fee was a ‘real deal-maker’.
He said: ‘That 30% contribution was impossible for a lot of health communities. Neither the practices had the money nor the CCGs, so this will make a real difference.
‘There’s more flexibility now and less bureaucracy and that really should help.’