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Multi-billion package announced “to get general practice back on its feet”

21 April 2016

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Reception and clerical staff will get training to free up GPs’ time, the role of practice managers will be developed and patients will get online consultations as part of a multi-billion pound package “to get general practice back on its feet”.

 An extra £2.4 billion a year by 2020 has been announced by NHS  England chief executive Simon Stevens and will be supplemented with a £500 million turnaround package and £171 million from CCGs.

The package announced in the General Practice Forward View aims to see an extra 5,000 GPs, including doctors from overseas and 5,000 other workers, including mental health therapists working in surgeries by 2020.

Stevens said that the pressures GP practices are facing in the NHS need to be acted upon. He said: “It’s no surprise that a recent international survey revealed British GPs are under far greater pressure than their counterparts.”

“Rather than ignore these real pressures, the NHS has at last begun openly acknowledging them. We need to act.”

There will be 3,000 fully funded mental health therapists based at practices, 1,500 more co-funded practice clinical pharmacists.

Stevens also announced nationally funded support for practice nurses, physician assistants, practice managers and receptionists.

An extra £15 million will be invested in a general practice nurse development strategy, including extra pre-registration nurse placements.

Stevens also announced a £45 million training package so reception and clerical staff can help free up GP time by handling clinical paperwork.

A new development plan is being launched for practice managers, with a £6 million investment to develop their roles. They will also get access to a new national development programme.

Virginia Patania, who is the practice manager of the Jubilee Street practice in east London said the plan “reflects and addresses all or most of the concerns raised by practices over recent years.”

She said new delivery models were the only way to offer services seven days a week, which could be “tricky from a provider view, essential from a patient’s”.

She added: “I am especially impressed at the explicit mention of practice managers, and the acknowledgement that this is an area which has always lived slightly under political and national radar.”

It was a time of opportunities, she said and “the time for the profession to come into its own, leading general practice into new models of stratified care”.

The package also sees £16 million invested in specialist mental health services for GPs suffering burnout and stress, and to help retain them.

NHS England will be pumping £500 million into the system for CCGS to commission for “sufficient routine appointments at evenings and weekends to meet locally determined demand.”

Not every GP or practice nurse will work seven days a week but groups of practices or other providers will offer out-of-hours services.

Up to £45 million will be available for practice to offer online consultations.

The rate of inspections will be reduced, with Care Quality Commission inspectors visiting good or outstanding practices every five years.

Stevens said: “One of the great strengths of general practice in this country has been its diversity across geographies and its adaptabilities over time. So one size will not fit all when it comes to the future shape and work of primary care.”