NHS England has announced new measures to ease pressures on general practice, including training for practice managers.
At a meeting yesterday, the NHS England board agreed a package of immediate actions including the first phase of the three-year, £30 million general practice development programme.
The programme will give every practice in the country the opportunity to receive training and development support.
This investment is linked with an additional investment of £96 million, which includes £6 million in practice manager development, £45 million to support the training of reception and clerical staff and another £45 million to support the uptake of online consultation systems.
The funding aims to help practice staff to manage their workload differently, freeing up time for GPs and improving care for patients.
The programme has created a 10-item “menu of support” for practices, which includes working with practice manager leaders to support networking at a local and national level, to share successful ways of managing workload and provide peer-to-peer encouragement and support.
The NHS website for the programme says: “Practice managers are a vital resource in the NHS, playing a key role in maintaining a quality service and in redesigning care for the future.
“Yet they are also one of the most neglected parts of the workforce, receiving relatively little formal training or ongoing development.
“Many practice managers report feeling overburdened and isolated in their role, and it is often noted that the most efficient ways of working are slow to spread between practices.”
NHS England also announced the release of the first £16 million of the new £40 million practice resilience programme.
The general practice resilience programme builds on work underway since December to help those practices worst affected by rising patient demand and will allow a wider range of support to be delivered.
This support will include practical help to stabilise practices under most pressure and for those practices with workforce issues.
This will include access to specialist support on HR, IT, staffing and practice management. Importantly the offer is not conditional on matched funding.
NHS England’s local teams will manage the funding as it will allow support to be developed and targeted more closely to practices or groups of practices where support is needed most.
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive said: “We meant it when we said we would take concrete action to help relieve pressure on GP practices, and today’s funding is just the first instalment.
“Practices need support, now, and a few weeks on from the GP Forward View we’re getting on with practical action to do so.”
Dr. Arvind Madan, NHS England director of primary care, said: “Three months on from the launch of the General Practice Forward View, we’re now getting on with implementing these plans.
“We understand the pressure on GP practices and today’s announcement shows how we’re getting on with immediate practical steps to deliver GPs much-needed support.”