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GP bureaucracy a ‘poor use of time’ and should not be reinstated, says NHSE

by Costanza Pearce
22 June 2020

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NHS England is beginning a review into GP bureaucracy, saying that any tasks that were ‘not a good use of time’ should not be reinstated after the pandemic. 

Director of primary care Ed Waller told GPs in Thursday’s live webinar that NHS England is looking at ‘what we can get rid of to everyone’s benefit’.

He said that would feed into the review of GP bureaucracy that was promised in the 2020/21 GP contract agreement.

Mr Waller said: ‘The bureaucracy review that we promised to run in February is just beginning to start its work.

‘We want to get together some groups of GPs, practice managers and other staff to hear directly from you what is the bureaucracy we’re talking about, how can we make things more flexible in a useful way and what is the balance between what’s necessary and some of the contractual and legal frameworks and what we can get rid of to everyone’s benefit.’

And deputy director of primary care contracts Gabi Darby added that NHS England must ‘avoid’ restoring things that are ‘not a good use of time’ to ‘make space’ for extra activity.

She said: ‘Primary care has started offering more proactive care both to care home patients and those who are shielding given their particular vulnerability. 

‘Therefore existing workloads have had to be re-prioritised and one impact of that we know is a growing backlog of need particularly around chronic condition management and prevention.’

She added: ‘We need to get back to doing those high-value things that were de-prioritised due to the immediate response and we need to try and avoid reinstating things that weren’t a good use of time before the response in order to make space for the extra activity that will continue.’

Finding a ‘balance’ of maintaining positive innovations and transformation from the pandemic will be another ‘challenge’ of the recovery period, Ms Darby added.

Meanwhile, NHS England has set up a cross-sector network to engage with NHS staff and stakeholders over its recovery plan.

NHS England director of clinical improvement and ‘beneficial changes’ network lead Dawn Chamberlain told GPs that the reduction in bureaucracy is a ‘key theme’ that has so far come through from ‘all sectors’.

Last week, the BMA warned that the Government must ‘reflect very carefully’ before reintroducing GP bureaucracy, as its latest tracker survey revealed that over half of GPs feel relieved by the temporary easing during the pandemic. 

And last month, the RCGP also hailed the ‘dramatic reduction in administrative tasks’ and called for GP bureaucracy not to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, the news that the CQC will restart routine inspections from the autumn caused an outcry among GPs this week, with the BMA and RCGP condemning the move.

Professor Clare Gerada today wrote to the CQC to request it delays GP inspections for at least another year to protect GP mental health.

Earlier this month, the GMC announced it was deferring all GP revalidation this year.


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