COVID-19 Support Fund for General Practices - deadline 15 September

01 September 2020

01 September 2020 by Andrew Leal Healthcare

NHS England issued a letter to all practices on 4 August 2020 setting out how medical practices can access the COVID-19 support fund for reimbursement of costs not already refunded by their CCG under a local agreement. In case you did not receive the letter or missed it during annual leave, this is to remind you that you have until 15 September to submit a claim. A copy of the letter and guidance on submitting a claim can be found here

What can general practices claim for?

  • Specific and net additional costs incurred for bank holiday opening across Easter and on 8 May 2020. This may include net additional facilities management charges such as cleaning and utilities.
  • Additional net costs incurred in delivering additional services to care homes. This will apply from 1 May until 30 September 2020.
  • The cost of COVID-19 related absence cover from day one of absence, where it was required to maintain necessary clinical and non-clinical capacity, staff could not work from home, and the individual received full pay. This will apply from 23 March to 31 July 2020.
  • The cost of additional capacity which has been required between 23 March – 31 July 2020 where supported by the commissioner.
  • Costs incurred as a result of purchasing other consumables required as a result of COVID-19. This does not include the costs of PPE. DHSC will be providing funding to cover costs of PPE that practices have had to incur and will communicate further detail about this soon.

What reimbursement can be claimed for services to care homes?

NHS England states “It is not expected that all practices will need to seek additional funding. As a first step, practices should deploy flexibly where possible existing practice resources to support the delivery of this service.” They also state that, “Practices should discuss with their local commissioner if they wish to be reimbursed for non-staffing related costs.”

This funding will be available until 30 September when additional funding will be available to Primary Care Networks through the Framework for Enhanced Health in Care Homes.

What staff costs can be claimed to backfill for COVID-19 related absences?

Practices will be able to seek approval from their CCG for reimbursement for retrospective backfill costs for COVID-19 related absences between 23 March and 31 July 2020. (eg, COVID-19 related sickness absences or absences as a result of staff shielding where staff were not able to work remotely), where:

It was necessary to secure backfill to maintain capacity and it has not been possible to cover the absence from existing capacity across the practice or wider system, eg across the Primary Care Network (PCN).

Practices are paying or have paid employees full pay, irrespective of the terms of their contract of employment.

Where CCG approval is given:

  • Backfill for GP absence as a result of COVID-19 can be claimed from day one to day fourteen of absence. After two weeks, any ongoing claims will need to be made under the Statement of Financial Entitlement provisions.
  • Backfill for non-GP practice-based staff related absence as a result of COVID-19 can be claimed from day one of absence, for the length of the absence (up until end of July).

What are the rates of reimbursement for staff costs?

  1. GP partners - Partners can claim a maximum of two additional sessions per week (Monday-Sunday) up to a maximum of £289 per 4-hour session, plus applicable employer National Insurance and pension costs.
  2. Salaried GPs (permanent contracts of employment) - Practices can seek reimbursement for backfill to cover COVID-19 related absences or additional capacity in line with the individual’s contractual hourly and overtime rates as paid to them in the February 2020 payroll, plus applicable employer National Insurance and pensions costs.
  3. Salaried GPs (temporary contracts of employment) - Practices may have temporarily engaged additional salaried GPs during this period. If approved by the local commissioners, practices may claim reimbursement for backfill to cover COVID-19 related absences or additional capacity at the rates of £200 a session (£400 per day); or £250 per session for OOHs (plus applicable employer National Insurance and pensions costs only).
  4. Locum GPs - Practices may seek reimbursement for backfill to cover COVID-19 related absences or additional capacity needs of £200 a session (£400 per day); or £250 per session for OOHs e.g., bank holidays (plus applicable employer National Insurance and pensions costs only).
  5. Other practice staff members of the workforce - Practices can seek reimbursement for additional capacity from existing practice staff members or from temporary staff members for backfill to cover COVID-19 related absences or additional capacity needs – if it is not possible to meet resource needs through existing resources within the PCN and local health economy. If approved, claims for existing practice staff would be reimbursed at current rates of pay only under their contractual arrangements.

How do practices claim?

  • Follow the link at the top of this article
  • Read the guidance and prepare a claim
  • Collate the supporting evidence
  • Read and sign the declaration in Annex B

Remember that these claims will be subject to post payment verification.

Find out more 

To discuss how to access this fund and how your general practice can optimise its finances to overcome the impact of COVID-19, please get in contact with our Head of Healthcare, Andrew Leal at andrew.leal@mhllp.co.uk or leave us an online enquiry.