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If only.........


Pulse have recently reported that at least £64.6m of funding available this year under the ARRS is forecast to go unspent with less than a fifth of that sum set to be reallocated to PCNs. Apparently only £8.77m (13%) is set to be released back into primary care, with any unclaimed funding remaining with NHS England.


There’s probably many reasons for the underspend; workforce shortages, lack of capacity to manage recruitment, bureaucracy and a lack of a clear vision in PCNs, but it’s disappointing that only a minority of ICBs are reallocating the money to PCNs.


If only...that money could be made available for other uses to support patients.


I remember a time, before PCNs were around, our CCG had a similar situation and practices were invited to pitch ideas so they could access some funding. There were no boundaries other than the amount of money available and it had to benefit patients. It was a great success, we pitched for a practice concierge (they’re now called care navigators) and a digital health solution. The CCG loved the ideas and we received funding for the digital solution, which had a positive impact on patients and practices.


If only...PCNs were able to do this now.


If only...they could bid for that money to use how they wanted, as long as it helped their patients and was quickly achievable.


We can imagine the great ideas, we had our own thoughts on some worthwhile services:

  • Nurse practitioner led frailty management

  • Centralised PCN infrastructure and admin service with technology to enable shared working

  • Cancer screening awareness and outreach

  • Homeless, housebound and isolated patient access

  • Mobile clinics

And some that were a bit more imaginative:

  • Patient board member development

  • Cookery schools

  • Meditation and mindfulness clinics

  • Creating 'green' practices


If only...ICBs could or would allow PCNs the funding and initiative to come up with their own ideas. We're sure there would be some brilliant suggestions and the winners would be the patients.


If ICBs haven't got the capacity, or are unsure how to do this, why not ask someone independent to manage the process.


If PCNs don’t have the capacity or expertise they could work with someone independent to create the bid and implement the solution.


The point is, surely this money belongs in primary care, and it’s where patients will feel its benefit the most. There is no doubt primary care needs that funding to improve things for patients. It is not difficult to make this happen.


If only...


If you are a PCN that needs support in developing new or existing services, or an ICB that is looking for innovative solutions for your PCNs, Venn Health can help. Contact us to discuss your ideas or to get some new ones; contact@vennhealth.co.uk

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