Last reviewed 16 November 2020
NHS England has confirmed that the new Covid-19 Fund of £150 million is the sum of additional pandemic funding to support GP services to operate throughout the Covid-19 vaccination campaign until March 2021.
Announcing the funding, NHS England sent a letter outlining how the fund will be distributed and the conditions placed on receiving it. It said: "The £150 million fund represents the total available additional Covid funding for general practice until March 2021, except for arrangements for potential Covid vaccine delivery which would be in addition."
NHS England said the fund will be immediately allocated through Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to support the "expanding general practice capacity up until the end of March 2021."
Funding is to be held back if certain criteria are not met, including practices returning activity to "at least prior levels" and making significant progress on learning disability health checks. It is also non-recurrent and shouldn't be used to pay for commitments running beyond March 2021.
ICSs and CCGs are expected to achieve seven "priority" goals and confirm they have spent the supporting funding fully within general practice. The goals comprise:
increasing GP numbers and capacity
supporting the establishment of the "simple Covid oximetry@home model" with guidance to follow
taking "first steps" in identifying and supporting patients with long Covid
supporting clinically extremely vulnerable patients and maintaining the shielding list
making "inroads" into the backlog of appointments, including for chronic disease management and routine vaccinations and immunisations
making "significant progress" on learning disability health checks, with an expectation that all CCGs will without exception reach the target of 67% by March 2021, and taking action to improve ethnicity data recording in GP records
potentially offering backfill for staff absences where this is agreed by the CCG, required to meet demand and the individual is not able to work remotely.
NHS England said that, although CCGs control the fund, they "should not introduce overly burdensome administrative processes for primary care networks (PCNs) and practices to secure support."
Each ICS or sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) will also have access to an additional fund of up to £120,000 to support the recruitment and deployment of GPs.