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Practice management news round-up: 24 November

This week: pharmacists in general practice; practices must deliver further efficiency savings; income from private fees falls; RCGP calls for more funding for practices.

Over 400 pharmacists to be hired for practices as NHS England doubles pilot fund

NHS England has more than doubled a fund to recruit clinical pharmacists to work in GP practices.

More than 400 medicines experts will now be employed through the scheme launched in July.

NHS England announced it would more than double funding for the programme from £15m to £31m after an overwhelming response.

The programme will fund the pharmacists for three years from next spring where they will provide expert help managing long-term conditions, advice for those with multiple medications and more access to clinical advice on treatments. Recruitment of the pharmacists will begin immediately.

GP practices must deliver further efficiency savings, NHS England tells DDRB

NHS England has rejected BMA warnings that GP practices have delivered nearly all possible efficiency savings in evidence to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB).

Supplementary evidence from NHS England to the DDRB this week warned that 'to suggest there is no scope for improvement [on efficiency] would not be accurate'.

'Practices do have opportunities to reduce their costs, including through federating - or even simply clubbing together to purchase supplies and achieve economies of scale,' NHS England claimed in response to questions from DDRB officials.

NHS England's evidence also made clear that it did not accept that funding should necessarily increase to match rising practice expenses, despite expenses now having risen to 63.5% of gross earnings.

Exclusive: Third of GPs say private fees income has fallen in past 12 months

Nearly one in three GPs say income from private and professional fees has dropped in the past 12 months compared with just one in 11 who report a rise, according to a Medeconomics survey.

A total of 31% of around 600 respondents said fees income had dropped over the last year.

Just 9% said their income from private and professional fees had risen, while 37% said it had stayed the same and 23% did not know.

Laurence Slavin, a partner at specialist medical accountants Ramsay Brown and Partners, said that almost every practice he spoke to had told him fees had fallen this year, by up to 20% in some cases.

Mr Slavin said insurance companies were often using their own people to complete medicals that GPs would have been paid for in the past, with GPs now just asked to copy notes for smaller fees.

General practice needs an extra £3.8bn a year by 2020 warns RCGP

General practice needs an extra £3.8bn a year by 2020, the RCGP has warned, as a poll carried out for the college found nine out of 10 GPs now believe heavy workload means they risk missing serious illness in their patients.

Around 95% or more GPs say that morale has decreased in the past five years, while fatigue and workload have increased.

A third of GPs have had to seek support, guidance or advice for work-related stress in the past two years, the poll found.

Ahead of chancellor George Osborne's spending review announcement on Wednesday, the RCGP called for a £750m annual increase in GP funding, rising to an extra £3.8bn annually by 2020.

The increase would deliver return the profession to the 11% share of overall NHS funding it received a decade ago, up from the 8.4% share it currently receives.

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