Posted 31/01/2019 By: Kate Smith
The Royal College of GPs estimates that the UK is 6,000 GPs short of what it needs. This has been acknowledged as changes have been announced as part of a five year contract with the British Medical Association. This is being funded by the extra £4.5bn that will be invested in community services by 2023 under the terms of the 10 year NHS plan published earlier this month.
The aim for the future is that each practice should have its own pharmacist, to carry out medicines reviews and a social-prescribing link worker, who will be able to link patients from exercise classes to lose weight to arts and dance groups to help with mental health problems. By 2023-24 there should be 22,000 extra physiotherapists, pharmacists, paramedics and link workers in place.
The aim is that the new staff will work with GPs taking responsibility for some of the 300 million bookings made with practices each year. The average GP appointment lasts approximately eight minutes which GPs say is not enough time to deal with the complex issues an ageing population presents with. The new staff will allow GPs to spend more time with the sickest patients and also provide continuing care to patients in the community.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “It represents the biggest boost to general practice in more than 15 years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services.”
Kate Smith, Solicitor in the Medical Negligence team at Ashtons Legal comments: “It is good that it has been recognised GP practices require extra assistance in order to ensure that patients get the best from their GP. What is not clear yet is where these staff will be coming from as we are aware that there are shortages elsewhere in the NHS. Although this is a real improvement to the development of service to patients, focus must also be placed on the recruitment and retention of GPs as well.”
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