Government announce primary care recovery plan for GP services

With GP surgery's busier than ever The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP has announced a primary recovery plan which aims are to better recover from the pandemic, to cut NHS waiting lists and to make the most of the opportunities ahead.

The plan focuses on three key areas:

  • Tackling the 8am rush, by giving GPs new digital tools.
  • Freeing up GP appointments by funding pharmacists to do more - with a ‘Pharmacy first’ approach.
  • Providing more GP staff and more appointments.

The Government has stated over £1.2 billion of funding has been made available to support the plan - in addition to the significant real-terms increases in spending on general practice in recent years.

The Government's first aim is to tackle the 8am rush.

They aim to do this by providing GPs with new and better technology moving away from analogue ways of working to the digital age.

An average-sized GP practice will get around 100 calls in the first hour of a Monday morning.

But no team of receptionists - no matter how hard-working - can handle such demand.

About half of GPs are still on old analogue phones meaning that, when things get busy, people get engaged tones.

So they’re changing this, by investing in modern phone systems for all GPs including features such as call-back options and by improving the digital front door for even more patients.

In doing so, they claim they will make the most of the 25,000 more staff they have said are in place in primary care.

The second area of this plan and Pharmacy First.

The Government plan to take off pressure off GPs where possible by making better use of the skills of all clinicians working in primary care.

From reviewing incredible role pharmacists played during the pandemic - the Government have have praised their capacity to innovate and deliver for the communities that they served and to free up GP appointments in doing so.

So, the second part of the plan is to introduce a new NHS service - Pharmacy First - on which they are already consulting with the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee.

Figures show 80% of people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy so making it easier for pharmacists to take referrals can have a huge impact.

Community pharmacies already take referrals for a range of minor conditions such as diarrhoea, vomiting and conjunctivitis.

But with the Pharmacy First approach, the Government say these services can go further still.

therfore they will invest up to £645 million over the next 2 years so pharmacists can supply prescription-only medicines for common conditions like ear pain, UTIs and sore throats without requiring a prescription from a GP.

The third part of then plan is about providing more staff and more appointments.

The Government state they are making huge investments in primary care workforce and they are on track to meet their manifesto commitment of having 26,000 more primary care staff by next March meaning we have more pharmacists, physios and paramedics delivering appointments in primary care than ever before.

They plan states that as well as freeing up more staff time, they plan to cut bureaucracy so GPs spend less time on paperwork and more time caring for patients by removing unnecessary targets improving communication between GPs and hospitals and reducing the amount of non-GP work GPs are being asked to do.

They put forward the example of patients often being discharged from hospital without fit notes meaning they then have to go to their GP to get one.

By the end of this year, NHS secondary care services - who will understand those patients’ conditions better - will be able to issue fit notes.

They have claimed to have streamlined the number of targets on primary care networks from 36 down to just 5.

The plan states that with all this taken together, this work will free up around £37,000 per practice.

Full article:

GOV.UK - Primary care recovery plan: Health and Social Care Secretary statement


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