Utilising the Covid Capacity Expansion Fund in General Practice

Last updated on: Published by: Chanelle Wate 0

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:

  1. Increasing numbers of GPs and their patient appointment capacity.
  2. Supporting the establishment of the Covid Oximetry @home model, which involves the remote monitoring of patients with symptoms of Coronavirus.
  3. Establishing first steps in remotely identifying, monitoring and supporting patients with Long Covid.
  4. Maintain list of shielding patients and supporting clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
  5. Addressing backlog of patient appointments including chronic disease management, routine vaccinations and immunisations.
  6. Making progress towards learning disability health checks, with the ambition that all CCGs will reach a target of 67% by March 2021.
  7. 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.

An outline of the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund

Last updated on: Published by: Chanelle Wate 0

In November 2020, NHS England released a document encouraging CCGs, GPs and general practice teams to maintain their efforts to keep patient access to general practice up to pre-Covid levels throughout the national lockdown. To achieve this, NHS England announced the release of the General Practice Covid Capacity Expansion Fund.

What is the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund?

The COVID Capacity Expansion Fund consists of £150m to be used exclusively in general practice, which works out as around £22,000 per practice. NHS England says the intention behind the fund is to provide support to practices who ‘are encouraged to use the fund to stimulate the creation of additional salaried GP roles’ which would be ‘attractive to practices and locums alike’.

There has been some confusion around whether this is intended to move locum GPs into salaried roles rather than offering them fixed-term contracts, but NHS England has since confirmed that the fund is designed to be executed with minimal bureaucracy and surgeries and practices should use the money to bring GPs into ‘substantive’ posts but are free to use the fund for locum GPs too.

Who can use the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund?

All ICSs and CCGs, general practice surgeries, other NHS and private facilities are entitled to access the fund and will be immediately allocated the funding. Although the fund is available to all general practice facilities, NHS England has stipulated some conditions:

Accessing the fund will be conditional on practices and PCNs continuing to complete national appointment and workforce data in line with existing contractual requirements. Where an individual practice is not yet accurately recording activity that is broadly back at its own pre-COVID levels, it is expected to do so as part of accessing the fund. CCGs should seek to understand and support the relatively small number of practices that are finding restoration of their activity most difficult.

How can it be used?

The fund can be used to expand a practice’s capacity up till the end of March 2021 and should not be used to support resourcing after that date.

NHS England has outlined that the fund will create useful staffing solutions by allowing:

  • Greater locum engagement
  • The creation of more salaried positions
  • Increased time commitments from existing staff
  • Support for GPs returning to work to aid COVID efforts

Not only will the increased resources allow for greater patient appointment capacity, it will also provide the opportunity for backfills for staff absences and to support backlogs.

How can I find locums to support my 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.

COVID-19 Vaccination Guide and FAQ

Last updated on: Published by: Michael Bowyer 0

With the exciting news that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the UK, we thought it would be useful to answer some of your questions and provide a guide to the new vaccine.

1. Coronavirus vaccine research:

The UK government has approved the use of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

Is it safe?

Dr. June Raine from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has commented that no corners were cut and that the vaccine “meets rigorous high standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality”, and that the “public can be confident” that the MHRA will be watching closely to ensure that during the vaccine rollout there is a good laboratory, clinical, and manufacturing practice.

Did Brexit impact the speed of the authorisation of the vaccine roll-out?

Dr. June Raine has also stated that the vaccine was authorised using provisions under European law which will continue to exist for the UK until 1st January 2021. The speed of which it progressed and was developed has been dependent on the availability of data, rigorous assessment and independent advice received.

2. How the vaccination works:

What are the side effects?

​Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, a British clinical pharmacologist and geneticist and NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool since 2007, has stated that the safety of the vaccine is similar to other vaccines. Even though this is a new vaccine, it has been rigorously tested with a study of 40,000 volunteers with very few complications.

What are the risks?

So far just over 1 in 1,000 people on average in the UK have died due to Coronavirus complications. The risk is even lower if you are young healthy, white or a woman. The scientists charged with monitoring the study haven’t reported any serious safety concerns.

3. The UK’s immunisation programme

Who will get the vaccine first?

The vaccination programme has been planned out in phases with the first phase aimed at immunising those in a risk category, which means those who are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. This includes:

  • ​Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
  • All those 80 years of age and over, frontline health and social care workers
  • 75 years and older
  • 70 years and older and clinically extremely vulnerable
  • All those 65 and older
  • All aged 16-64 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious
  • Disease or mortality
  • All those 60 years and over
  • All those 55 years and older
  • All those 50 years and older

Will, which Tier you live in make a difference to when you get the vaccine?

No, the government has stated that qualifying for the vaccination will be based on the above criteria.

Will there be enough vaccine?

The government have assured that 800,000 doses will be available next week but considerably more will be available in the New Year.

During our hot topic series our Head of Clinical Performance, Lorraine Gray, will be looking into a new subject each month, providing commentary and advice on pressing issues for clinicians. If you have any topics you would like to know more about, please get in touch.

A former RGN and Matron, Lorraine has over 10 years in senior executive roles in IUC and NHS 111 services and today leverages her operational and clinical experience offer balanced delivery solutions and insights for our clinicians.

If you have any further questions about the Coronavirus vaccine, PPE, or how you can source locum or clinician work in primary or acute care – or even via remote telemedicine working shifts – we would be happy to talk to you about it!