Online Consultations Guidance for Practices – Contractual Position
Publication date: May 2021
The LMC continues to receive queries from practices about the contractual position around online consultations. Along with other LMCs, we have sought clarification from the GPC England team. While NHS England refers to online consultations in the latest SOP dated 4th May, the contractual position has been outlined by the BMA - see LMC UK conference | COVID vaccination | online consultations – contractual requirements (bma-mail.org.uk) (scroll down to the Online consultations – contractual requirements heading). This is an extract from the GPC advice:
The contractual position
Before the pandemic, as part of the 2019 GP contract deal paragraph 5.10 (i)) GPC England agreed that it would eventually become contractual for practices to offer online consultations during core hours. This agreement has not yet been added to the contract regulations, so is not currently a contractual requirement. However, GPCE also agreed that practices should offer online consultations as early as possible, provided that the necessary infrastructure is in place, but it would not become a requirement until it is entered into the contract regulations. It is therefore for practices to determine how best they use online consultation systems, including what hours they are available, and they should try to use them in such a way that helps with triage and workload management, enabling the delivery of a safer and more accessible service to all their patients.
The LMC wishes to reassure practices that they are under no contractual obligation to provide access to any online consulting platforms outside their core contracted hours of 8am-6:30pm (or 6pm if local arrangements are in place), Monday to Friday. We know that some practices find online platforms useful, however where a practice feels they are not helpful in the delivery of their services, or they are not yet fully ready for their implementation they may request that the provider deactivates them outside core hours or completely. Where deactivating these platforms is technically difficult (e.g. from the provider end), practices may wish to simply remove the link on their website as a temporary measure – you do not need to seek permission to do so but should inform the CCG so they are aware. Please feel free to copy the LMC in if you wish.
With thanks to BBO LMC for sharing their statement on this matter.