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Primary Care Staff Shortages Continue as NHS People Plan Delayed

The National Audit Office’s NHS Nursing Workforce Report has revealed the full NHS People Plan, covering the period up to 2025, is now due to be published in spring 2020. How will this affect efforts to recruit GPs and nurses in primary care?



In January 2019 the NHS Long Term Plan revealed plans to increase staff numbers, noting the biggest shortfalls were in nursing. The People Plan programme was set up to decide how to secure the workforce the NHS needs to meet its future service commitments, and the full workforce plan was originally set to be published in 2019.

An interim People Plan was published in June, setting out new national and local roles for workforce planning. It also pointed to a more pivotal role for integrated care systems - local partnerships of NHS bodies and local authorities working across an area.


Primary Care's Recruitment Problem

An approaching retirement surge is expected to worsen staffing problems, with more than half of practice nurses aged over 50. A survey by the NMC revealed 52% of people leaving nursing or midwifery were doing so due to retirement, while another 26% of leavers blamed poor staffing levels.

Despite promises made by Jeremy Hunt back in 2015 to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020, there were actually 1,000 fewer FTE GPs working in 2019 than in 2015 according to the RCGP. An analysis by the Pulse has projected that by the start of 2024/25, the Government may have 1,869 fewer fully qualified FTE GPs than in 2019.

 

A Solution to the NHS Staffing Crisis? 

Recent campaigns such as the GP Retention Scheme, GP Career Plus and Local GP Retentions Fund have yet to show success, with one programme to attract and retain GPs in Scotland only recruiting 18 people.

The HSJ recently reported that Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock raising concerns about the People Plan after seeing draft proposals for cancer services, saying that the current proposals need much more detail and to make a firm commitment to greater staff numbers.



Stay tuned to the 
First Practice Management Blog for latest news stories relating to primary care.


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