- Posted Thursday April 21, 2016
NHS England has announced that GP services will be given over a £2.4bn budget boost to help ease growing workloads and to get surgeries “back on their feet”.
The funding injection will be pumped into services by 2020 to help pay for 5,000 more GPs and extra staff to improve access for patients.
This rescue package comes after warnings that the future of general practice was at real risk due to unsustainable workloads and an unprecedented recruitment crisis.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced that he was “openly acknowledging” the problems and acting upon them.
“GPs are by far the largest branch of British medicine and as a recent British Medical Journal headline put it – if general practice fails, the whole NHS fails,” Stevens wrote.
“We have under-invested in primary care, even though it’s 300 million patient visits a year and it’s absolutely essential and foundational for an equitable and cost-effective NHS,” he added.
It’s not just funding that will be included in NHS’ masterplan, plans also include:
- 3,000 extra mental health therapists by 2020 - one for every three GP practices in England.
- Extra support and help for GPs suffering stress and burnout.
- More patients will use ‘self-care’ to manage their conditions, including by online means, reducing the need to see a GP.
- Almost 2,000 pharmacists in general practice by 2020, backed by a £140m investment.
- Introduce incentives to encourage medical graduates to choose to become a GP in under-doctored areas of England.
- £15m extra to develop practice nursing, with extra training capacity and retention schemes.
- £45m to train reception and admin staff to help patients and take on more clinical paperwork to free GP time.
- Train 1,000 physician associates and pilot new medical assistant roles.
- £6m investment in practice manager development.
The news was welcomed by Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, she said: “This is the most significant announcement for our profession since the 1960s. We hope today’s news marks a turning point for general practice.” If the package was implemented then it would help “keep the health service sustainable by alleviating pressures across the NHS”