Welcome to 2022!

As we usher in a brand-new year and turn our attention away from festivities towards 2022's fresh challenges, here are some of the main things to expect.

It seems that April 2022 is an important month for the NHS and everyone who works in it, with no fewer than three significant deadlines all falling in this month. The first priority will of course continue to be the vaccination and booster roll-out. There’s the added pressure of the April deadline for Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD), after which all patient-facing NHS staff will have to have had the Covid-19 vaccine. This means that all those in practice who will come face-to-face with patients, including receptionists, secretaries, dispensers, and managers, must be able to show they have been double-vaccinated. At the time of writing, over 90,000 NHS staff had still not had even one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but the numbers who may have to be dismissed or redeployed elsewhere are not yet known. Have a look at our article for more information on how to prepare your practice and its staff.

Also in April 2022, expect to see the provisions of the new Health and Social Care Bill come into force. Debated in parliament throughout autumn and winter 2021, the Bill’s provisions are wide-ranging and aim to transform our current health and social care system. Its main pillars are focused on removing barriers to true system integration; legislation to remove unnecessary bureaucracy; a more accountable, responsive system for staff and patients alike; and additional measures for social care, public health, and safety & quality.

The third noteworthy event to watch out for is that patients will be allowed online access to new entries in their GP records from April 2022, a move delayed by several months in order to consider the potential workload and safety impact this could have on GP surgeries, and following concerns expressed to NHSX by the BMA. Ultimately, patients will be able to access GP notes, entries and results online and through the NHS App, and also historic coded records.

In the final days of 2021, it was announced that the move to give new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) statutory powers and phase out CCGs has been delayed by three months, and is not now expected to happen until July 2022. Our article from March 2021 covers the basics of what GP practices should know about ICSs.

There was also a delay to the planned transfer of CCG-commissioned extended access services to Primary Care Networks (PCNs) which seems unlikely to happen now until October 2022. (Plans for the gradual introduction of new service requirements for PCNs and confirmation of how PCNs will access the funding available through the Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) in 2022/23 were published earlier this year).

Whilst all this is going on, the government’s much-publicised aim to not only ‘level up but also ‘build back better will be a major focus. This will involve ensuring that all areas of society—especially the most deprived—get access to the new money and staff that are promised and that new digital tools and big data will help to take everyone on the same transformational journey to equality in health and social care.

Wishing you a very happy new year from all of us at FPM Group.


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