To facilitate the government’s goal to vaccinate 44 million people within a five-month period, NHS England has issued the Covid Capacity Expansion Fund, a one-off fund over £150 million that can be used by general practice to support resourcing for their Covid-19 efforts.
Can the Covid Expansion Fund be used for locum GPs?
Originally issued in November 2020, the fund was created to expand general practice capacity by stimulating ‘the creation of additional salaried GP roles that are attractive to practices and locums alike’.
This initially raised concerns that locum GPs would be coerced into full-time salaried positions and that there would be lengthy, bureaucratic recruitment processes to fulfil the requirements of the fund. However, the British Medical Association has since confirmed that ‘the whole intent of the £150m is to provide support direct to practices with minimum bureaucracy in a high-trust manner to support them through the tough winter ahead’. This means that locum GPs can be brought on as efficiently as possible with minimal red tape, making them an invaluable resource to help support general practice at this time.
NHS England outlined that the fund should be used to support seven priorities in general practice:
- Increasing numbers of GPs and their patient appointment capacity.
- Supporting the establishment of the Covid Oximetry @home model, which involves the remote monitoring of patients with symptoms of Coronavirus.
- Establishing first steps in remotely identifying, monitoring and supporting patients with Long Covid.
- Maintain list of shielding patients and supporting clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
- Addressing backlog of patient appointments including chronic disease management, routine vaccinations and immunisations.
- Making progress towards learning disability health checks, with the ambition that all CCGs will reach a target of 67% by March 2021.
- Creating the opportunity to offer backfill for staff absences where the individual was unable to work remotely.
Locum GPs provide a cost-effective and flexible way to support full-time healthcare professionals in achieving these seven priorities for general practice in this time. This is because locum GPs can be deployed at speed and can handle a wide range of systems and processes, all while maintaining high-quality care for all patients.
Utilising the Covid Expansion Fund
The Covid Expansion Fund will be allocated to ICSs and CCGs and should average around £22,000 per practice. It should be used to fulfil these seven priorities and only used within general practice. Practices should be aware that It is a non-recurrent fund and should be used to only support resourcing for general practice up until the end of March 2021 and not beyond that date.
Finding locum GPs to support your practice
If you are a healthcare provider or GP practice in need of extra support sourcing exceptional GPs during the pandemic, Key Medical Services is pleased to offer fast and flexible solutions. Please get in touch to discuss your unique requirements and we will endeavour to provide bespoke solutions to suit your needs.