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New funding opportunity will help GPs in deprived areas to tackle health inequalities

Posted: 4th October 2021

We are pleased to announce that working in partnership with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) we have secured funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s ‘Regulators’ Pioneer Fund’.

This project in collaboration with the CQC will explore the innovative ways that GPs have devised to tackle health inequalities and help develop a national toolkit which acts as an actionable guide for systems and practices particularly in the most deprived areas.

It also aims to help practices to evidence any innovative solutions in CQC’s regulatory approach. Currently, evidencing innovative practice may be difficult for GP practices, unless the project had a direct effect on achieving a healthcare target. Consequently, already under-resourced GP practices may remain in a cycle of inequality, unable to recruit and retain staff, and may also encounter difficulties with funding.

Ash Alom, Programme Lead at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, commented: “General practice is at the heart of NHS care. Practices, particularly those serving the most deprived communities are constantly working under incredibly challenging circumstances including high service demand and staff shortages.

“At the same time, we know there are many great examples of innovation that practices are using to overcome these challenges and especially in response to the pandemic. We are looking forward to working with these practices and our CQC partners to showcase and spread the learning of these and support the development of new innovations”.

Richard Stubbs, CEO of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and Vice Chair of the AHSN Network, said: “COVID-19 has undoubtedly exacerbated the health inequalities that exist in our society.

“This makes it even more important than ever that the reduction of health inequalities is at the heart of NHS prioritises and delivers its services. We are incredibly pleased to work in partnership with the Care Quality Commission on this important project.

Helping our GPs to develop innovative projects aimed at tackling health inequalities and helping the CQC to better embed innovation into its regulatory processes is work that will have a direct and beneficial impact for the populations that most need our services.”

The project will support innovation in the primary care sector by providing motivation for GPs to innovate, as well as access to resources and good practice examples. By encouraging and facilitating innovative practice, the project will support the development of innovative services and help practices to better document their impact.

Responding to the award, Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission said: “Innovation is central to good, responsive healthcare that focuses on the needs of people who use services.

“The ingenuity and agility of clinicians and professionals have been fundamental to how the whole health and social care system has responded to COVID-19. However, we also know that GPs and their practice teams have long been striving to find new and effective ways of working locally that address health inequalities in their area.

“This project gives us the opportunity to support innovation by working with providers to understand the environment that made innovative ways of working possible, and how regulation can properly recognise the positive impact that they have. Importantly, it also means that we can champion and share the excellent work that is already underway so others can develop their own initiatives – in full knowledge that the regulatory system will recognise and appreciate the significance of their efforts to reduce health inequalities.

“We are grateful to the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund for making this project possible and our colleagues at the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network, who will be working alongside us.”

As an AHSN we act as a bridge between health care providers, commissioners, academia and industry. We work in partnership with health and care communities and develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the diversity and meet the needs of the local populations and health care challenges.

We are looking for examples of innovative solutions implemented by general practices in particular in deprived areas, please email with any ideas.