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Somerset LMC Weekly Update Friday 16th February 2024

Date sent: Friday 16 February 2024

Sent to all Somerset GPs and Practice Managers          This and previous updates are available here

News from GPC England

GP Contract 2024/25: As practices will be aware GPC England has rejected the formal contract from the DHSC and NHS England (NHSE) for the General Medical Services (GMS) contract for 2024-25. This information from the GPC lays out the reasons behind that decision and explains the next steps that the BMA will be taking, please do read.

GPCE Letter to NHSE Regarding the Measles Outbreak:  GPC England wrote to NHS England last week highlighting our serious concerns around the current Measles outbreak and the need for urgent support and resources in general practice.
The communications from NHSE and UKHSA show the lack of accompanying infrastructure, planning and resources to help address the outbreak within general practice. We have explained how the increase in workload generated by patient queries, requests for vaccination history cross-checking, and unresourced catch-up vaccination clinics, seriously risks impacting upon practice service delivery. We reiterated our request and belief that lowering the thresholds for vaccination QOF payments would enable greater coverage, rather than the current financially punitive approach that is in place.
GPC have requested an NHSE-mandated urgent rollout of time-limited packages of support for ICBs, and a Measles Vaccination Enhanced Service. The enhanced service would also cover the inherent costs to set-up and staff necessary clinics to limit the impact on normal day-to-day care.
The letter was also shared in a meeting with the parliamentary under-secretary for primary care, Andrea Leadsom.

Cloud Based Telephony Costs and Workload: Following concerns raised by LMCs and Practices relayed to GPC England about the challenges practices are facing around recent changes to the way that cloud-based telephony (CBT) services are being offered to GPs and the cost and workload implications that these changes have had on practices. GPC have written to NHSE to raise these concerns and have requested an immediate pause in the programme. They have also issued a press release and a social media post.

Clinical News/Updates

Somerset Primary Link Communication Email Change: From the 1st January 2024 Primary Link ceased accessing the account for email communications, instead we are using the following email address for all communications Please use the email address to send over email referrals and medical summaries. The account is not regularly monitored which means that referrals may get missed.

Information for GP Partners/Salaried/Locums/Practice Managers

Access to Records – ICO Response to DPIAs: Following DPIAs being submitted by many practices relating to the accelerated access to records programme, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) this is a reminder that the ICO published its advice last month. The ICO is content that ‘potential data protection risks have been identified, and that sufficient mitigations are in place.’ Practices that haven't completed a DPIA are encouraged to do so and make their commissioners aware. If practices identify particular data protection risks associated with providing online access, which they do not consider to be mitigated, they should consult and engage with the ICO and their commissioner to find a way forward.
The ICO is technically correct that in theory, a practice could expend whatever infinite resource it wished in order to comply with the contractual requirement to give access. Because a practice could theoretically mitigate (at enormous cost) the ICO is content that the Data Protection Act will not be broken.
It's what the ICO has not said which is telling. Reading between these lines, one may infer that if mitigations were not in place (i.e. access was blanket switched-on, as may have happened in many cases) there may be questions over the legality. Hence the BMA's advice is that as a practice you must still construct a DPIA and keep your commissioners updated.

DBS Checks: Practices will have had an e mail this week from Sapern HR (formerly a provider arm of Avon LMC) to say they are ceasing DBS checks with immediate effect. We have spoken to the newly managed Avon LMC and they will be offering DBS checks hopefully by the end of February if not early March. In the interim Wessex LMC have kindly agreed to help Somerset practices, they would be grateful if you would email them first via their DBS email address: in order that they can upload your details to the DBS portal, after which you will have access to their online service.

Practice Managers Appraisal Toolkit: The IGPM (The Institute of General Practice Management) have created a toolkit to support the Practice Manager appraisal process. The annual appraisal is a key part of the performance management cycle for all employees. For managers working in general practice, it is pivotal in ensuring that the manager is engaged, supported, performing, and continuing their own professional development. The toolkit is a free resource for all IGPM Accredited and Associate Members. With membership starting at as little as £50 per year (plus VAT), members gain access not only to this vital resource, but also to the IGPM Member WhatsApp support groups (covering a variety of different topics all related to practice and PCN management), our team of regional and national representatives who provide peer support and advice, entry onto the professional register upon completion of accreditation, and the representation at local, regional and national level that the IGPM provides. Available from 12th February, join the launch webinar to discover how to use the toolkit and why it is important on Wednesday 21st February at 12.30. Sign up here.

Information for All

Have Your Say on Council Budget Setting: Somerset Council is launching a public consultation on its budget, offering residents and businesses the chance to have their say as the authority faces a financial emergency. The consultation is open to everyone and the results will help influence Councillors as they look to set a balanced budget in February 2024. This consultation includes adult social care.


Somerset LMC/Training Hub GP Recruitment Event Wednesday 3rd April at Taunton Racecourse: Our latest popular GP recruitment event will be held from 2pm on Wednesday 3rd April as a face to face meeting. This event will give GPs and GP trainees the chance to meet and talk to a wide variety of Somerset practices in one place. If you are GP or GP trainee looking for a job in Somerset please book here. Somerset practices can book their table to advertise their vacancy here. Registration and participation is free but places are limited. Please book by Thursday 21st March.

Kind regards


Jill Hellens

Executive Director
Somerset LMC
Crown Medical Centre, Venture Way, Taunton, TA2 8QY

Tel: (01823) 331 428            
Fax: (01823) 338 561
General Practice in Somerset Great Place Great Potential

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