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What Do the Five Year Forward View’s ‘Next Steps’ Mean for Primary Care?

The Five Year Forward View is NHS England’s blueprint for the future of the health service – published in October 2014, it set out a series of goals that aim to promote wellbeing and prevent ill-health. The world moves quickly though, and now a series of ‘next steps’ have been published to bring the wide-ranging plans up to date.

The key plans set out for general practice include extending access to GP appointments at evenings and weekends across all practices by March 2019, as well as modernising primary care premises, with 800 infrastructure projects identified for investment by 2019. The initial FYFV goal of boosting GP numbers by 5000 is also repeated.

So how will NHSE go about reaching these goals? The following plans were set out to help ensure the successful implementation of the plans:

  • Increased investment in GP service – Funding for general practice is to rise by £2.4 billion by 2020/21 - this is a projected 14% real terms increase.
  • Encourage practices to work together in ‘hubs’ or networks - GP surgeries will increasingly be expected to work together, allowing them to share resources and pool responsibility for urgent care and extended access. Routes to achieve this may include federations, ‘super-surgeries’ and ‘multispecialty community providers’.
  • Boosting GP retention – Schemes such as GP Career Plus, the Time to Care programme and the new NHS GP Health Service have been put in place to help prevent GPs leaving the NHS.
  • Contract reform, including the abolition of QOF - There is now wide agreement that the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) has run its course. NHSE will seek to develop and agree a successor to QOF. It’s hoped this will allow the reinvestment of £700 million a year into improved patient access, professionally-led quality improvement and greater population health management.
  • Widening the skills mix - Targeted national investment will be focused on growing the number of clinical pharmacists and mental health therapists embedded in primary care.

The ‘next steps’ pay tribute to the fact that GPs have one of the highest public satisfaction ratings of any public service, at over 85%, but also reiterates that improving access to primary care services is a top priority for patients.

What do you think about this new set of updates? Have you seen any improvements as a result of the FYFV so far, and do you think the plans set out are realistic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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