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Sector reacts: £3.5bn a year for primary and community care

by Valeria Fiore
22 November 2018

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Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged an extra £3.5bn to primary and community care, announced last night, which will ensure that people receive better care at community level, which will avoid them going to the hospital.
However, scarce details have been released on how this money will be allocated, and some fear there is simply not enough staff to deliver on these promises.
Management in Practice speaks to PMs across the nations to find out their views on the announcement.
Claire Oatway – chief operating officer at the Beacon Medical Group in Plymouth
‘As an optimist, I welcome any news of additional investment. In recent local discussions, we’ve begun to consider that the acute problems within our system may be flipping into chronic problems.
‘There’s a lot to come in the detail of course. The practical recommendations certainly do reinforce what we’ve seen in terms of primary care home – that when multi-disciplinary teams come together around  a defined community they can make a huge difference in health outcomes, spend and motivation in a tired workforce.
‘I hope that the new money is channelled towards prevention and supports ownership among our patients for our own health outcomes. Even with £20bn the system still needs every person to [control] their own health and their families as much as they can. Vital community and social support mechanisms are [essential] to avoid over-medicalising conditions and the additional future strain that brings.
Anthony Howarth – business manager at West Gorton Medical Centre in Manchester
‘Where is the workforce to deliver on the promise of better community care? By 2020 the aging NHS workforce is set to halve and Brexit doesn’t help matters. I am involved in a workforce planning project here in Manchester, where we are exploring new ways of working and utilising NHS staff such as pharmacists and paramedics. However, there are only so many people to go round.
‘How is the Government going to address the recruitment and retention crisis in primary care? This promised investment is simply putting a lid on an already over boiling pot.’
Steve Williams – co-chair of the Practice Management Network
‘We would welcome this investment into primary care as it recognises the important role of general practice in ensuring wellbeing in the community.
‘We already know that investment is needed to ensure patients avoid going to hospital in the first place and are facilitated into being discharged at the earliest opportunity.
‘We will need to await the details of the 10 year plan to see whether the increased level of funding is directed to primary care on a recurring basis.
‘With investment, innovation and service improvement will thrive in primary care.’
Mark Thomas – practice manager Chelston Hall Surgery in Torquat
‘Sadly money is not the answer for all of the NHS ailments. GP recruitment and retention is the [biggest] concern. With GP retirements amongst an ageing workforce at an all-time high, the ability to recruit is our no.1 problem.
‘Money will not fix that if we continue to see a 45% vacancy rate in our local GP training programme. We have developed our clinical team due to [a lack of GPs] and now have nurse practitioners, a pharmacist and a paramedic but I am still looking for new GPs.’