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Government and NHS commit additional £1.5bn to general practice

Government and the NHS have outlined an additional £1.5bn in funding over the next four years for general practice medicine, aimed at providing additional staff and delivering Government’s commitment of 50 million more appointments by 2024.

Alongside supporting Government’s commitment to invest in general practice under the Long Term Plan, the new additional funding represents an opportunity to recruit 6,000 more primary care professionals.

It will also support initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining doctors in general practice.

In agreement with the profession, the General Practice Contract for 2020/21 will also offer more check-ups for new mums as part of a major deal with England’s family doctors.

The contract includes a roadmap for delivering the necessary staff additions to bolster general practice surgeries, including bringing 6,000 doctors into the field and 26,000 new staff to support them.

Those additional staff include pharmacists, physiotherapists, dieticians and occupational therapists, who will become a core part of local primary care teams and reduce pressures on general practice. Their increased presence at general practice surgeries also ensures that patients are always able to see or speak with the right clinicians for their needs.

Regular visits for care home residents was also referenced within the agreement, assessing medication as well as new incentives to increase uptake of vaccinations and learning disability health checks. Social prescribing referrals and improved prescription checks were also included.

Expanding the new workforce allows GPs to focus on the sickest patients and provide longer appointment to people who need one.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want the NHS to be there for everyone when they need it, and to take pressure off hospitals by expanding primary care.

“This new contract is the first step to delivering our manifesto commitment to make it easier to get a GP appointment when you need it by delivering 50 million more appointments a year in general practice.

“The significant additional investment means GP surgeries can recruit more pharmacists, physiotherapists and other health professionals so patients get the right care for them when they need it. It’s all part of our commitment to ensure the NHS is always there for everyone.”

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “This agreement funds a major increase in general practice staff - including GPs, therapists and pharmacists - so that patients can get quicker appointments with a wide range of skilled health professionals at their local doctors’ surgery.

“These extra staff will in turn be offering expanded services, including regular health checks for people living in care homes, action to boost vaccination uptake, earlier cancer detection, and better support for people with learning disabilities.

“Coming on the heels of the highest ever number of young doctors now choosing to train as GPs, this is a vote of confidence in general practice that goes with the grain both of what patients need and what GPs themselves want to provide.”

Ian Dodge, NHS national director of strategy, also commented: “Today’s deal is another important moment, when general practice is given the practical support it needs to expand patient care. And with a much bigger team, and more GPs, it becomes possible to provide new services and improve access for patients.”


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