NHS RECRUITS 20,000 TO END GP CRISIS
Health revolution to give patients better all-round care at doctors’ surgeries
NHS bosses are set to recruit 20,000 staff to boost GP services.
A landmark five-year plan promises a family practice revolution to end the current crisis afflicting surgeries.
The new recruits will include pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists. Their role will be to take pressure off doctors and allow them to spend more time with the sickest patients.
The plan, agreed last night between health chiefs and the British Medical Association, involves a £1.8billion investment by 2023. It will be used to set up primary care networks and help neighbouring
practices to pool resources. Each network will cover from 30,000 to 50,000 patients and be led by a local GP.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the deal, officially announced today and part of an overall budget of £4.5billion for primary care services, is the first major pillar in implementing the new NHS Long Term Plan.
He said: “This five-year deal unarguably represents the biggest boost to primary care in more than 15 years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services.
“Patients across England – in towns, villages and cities – will all begin to see the benefits, beginning this year.
“It allows us to keep all that’s best about British general practice while future-proofing it for the decade ahead.”
The networks will be established across the country by July and the 20,000 new staff will be recruited over the next five years.
They will also include “social prescribers”, who work to deal with non-medical problems like loneliness.
Health chiefs say the deal will particularly benefit frail and elderly patients and others with long-term and complex conditions.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chairman, said: “We are confident that these widespread changes – the most significant in 15 years – will deliver the best, not just for GPs across England, but also for the patients they treat on a daily basis.
“Recent years have seen an overstretched workforce doing their best to meet rising demand from patients suffering more and more complex conditions, on the back of a decade of under-investment in general practice.
“This package sets us on the road to rebuilding not only general practice but also the wider primary health care team, delivering an expanded workforce embedded within practices and giving GPs a leadership role in bringing together the community healthcare team.”
The contract also promises additional funding for the latest digital technologies. All patients will have the right to “digital-first” primary care, including web and video consultations by 2021.
They will be able to order repeat prescriptions electronically from April and have digital access to their full records from 2020.
Within five years, more than 2.5 million people will benefit from social prescribing, a personal health budget, and new support for managing their own health and care.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, head of the Royal College of GPs, said general practice has been “at a crossroads for several years” as doctors struggled to cope.
Welcoming the deal, she said: “Investing in general practice is investing in the entire health service.
“Implemented correctly, this contract could cultivate a profession that future doctors are eager to join.”
Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said yesterday: “The new deal is welcome recognition of the pressures facing general practice and signals a fundamental change in the way that GP services will be delivered.”