GPonline reported earlier this week that NHS England was set to roll out a £30m long COVID enhanced service for general practice as part of a £100m package of measures to boost support for the condition.
An update to the contract published on 17 June reveals that a further £20m will be available to general practices through a weight management enhanced service.
In a letter to practices, NHS officials have also confirmed that ‘further funding for PCN clinical director support’ will be available from July to September 2021.
GP contract update
The additional funding means that networks can claim for one whole-time equivalent (WTE) clinical director through the period instead of 0.25 WTE as was previously planned. This increase matches uplifted funding made available from April to June – and is available to all PCNs where ‘at least one core network practice is signed up to the COVID-19 vaccination programme enhanced service’.
The NHS England letter says the weight management enhanced service will ‘encourage practices to develop a supportive environment for clinicians to engage with patients living with obesity about their weight, and provides up to £20m funding for referrals to weight management services’.
Practices will be paid £11.50 ‘per patient living with obesity who is referred to eligible weight management services’. Total earnings per practices will be capped, with ‘notional practice shares of the available £20m national funding will be determined based on the practice obesity register at 31 March 2020’.
However, commissioners will be able to lift the cap if practices hit the upper limit – and to reduce the cap for practices that have earned less than 40% of their cap by November.
The enhanced service requires participating practices to ‘develop and implement a protocol for the identification and support of patients living with obesity’.
The protocol should cover plans including how to ‘normalise conversations about weight and weight management in all consultations’, ensure sensitive handling of discussions and referrals, maximise identification of people living with obesity in all consultations, support self-reporting of health information, regular monitoring and support to access weight management help.
Practices will be expected to commit to restoring their obesity register to ‘at a minimum pre-pandemic levels of recording’.
Practices will also be expected to complete individual assessments of patients on their obesity register at 31 March 2021 to assess their ‘readiness to engage with weight management services’, with a view to referring these patients to ‘the most clinically appropriate service’.
Details of the long COVID enhanced service for general practice show that from the total £30m available, practices will receive payment ‘based on registered list sizes at 1 January 2021’ unless specific alternatives have been agreed locally.
Practices will receive 75% of their total payment upfront upon signing up to the service, and the rest at the end of March 2022 after agreement that they have completed and submitted a declaration confirming they have carried out staff training on how to identify, assess and manage long COVID, developed support for self management, understood local clinical pathways, correctly coded patient data on long COVID and worked up an ‘equity of access plan’.