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General Practice Forward View: The impact on practice staff

NHS England's long awaited plan for the future of general practice set out a vision of vastly expanded workforce in general practice, backed by an extra £206m of funding. So how might this affect your practice?

NHS England’s General Practice Forward View plans to increase the number of GPs by 5,000 by 2020 through expanding the number of training places, attracting up to 500 doctors from overseas and attracting at least 500 GPs back into English general practice via financial incentives and simplifying return to work routes.

Expanding the general practice workforce

In addition, NHS England envisages an expanded and better skilled general practice workforce. The Forward View suggests a minimum of 5,000 additional staff will be working in general practice by 2020/21.

This includes an extra 3,000 mental health therapists, a further 1,500 clinical pharmacists and 1,000 physician associates.

NHS England says appetite for the original pilot of clinical pharmacists in general practice was high and, as a result, it is making a further £112m available to ‘enable every practice to access a clinical pharmacist’. The plan is for one pharmacist to be available across a population of on average 30,000 (the population size that has previously been suggested as a minimum for the new multispecialty community provider contract).

A new practice nurse development strategy will deliver £15m investment to expand the training capacity in general practice so that more nurses are able to spend time in primary care during pre-registration training. It will also fund ‘measures to improve retention of the existing nursing workforce and support for return to work schemes for practice nurses’.

NHS England has also committed to piloting the medical assistant role that has been advocated by the RCGP and also pilot the role of primary care physiotherapy services.

Training for existing staff

There also plans to invest in training and development programmes for existing staff. £45m should reach ‘every practice’ to support training of reception and clerical staff so that they can play a greater role in helping patients navigate the health system and handling clinical paperwork in order to free up GPs’ time. Meanwhile £6m is earmarked for practice manager development.

In terms of training and development for practice nurses, NHS England plans to roll out the recently published Health Education England Community (District) and General Practice Nursing Service Education and Career Framework. It also plans to implement the Queen’s Nursing Institute Voluntary Education and Practice Standards for District Nurses and work with practices to ensure practice nurses have access to mentorship and training.

Other support

NHS England will also invest a further £16m, on top of the £3.5m already committed, to developing a new national service to improve GPs’ access to mental health support.

It is expected that the service will be available from December 2016 and it will provide GPs suffering from stress, burnout or other mental illness with access to free, confidential local support and treatment.

Read more about the GP Forward View

  • Emma Bower is editor of Medeconomics and GPonline

Picture: iStock

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