Help For GPs – Will It Work?

The NHS has announced plans to recruit ‘an army’ of 20,000 health professionals who will work alongside GPs to provide better health services to the public, and ease the pressure of GP workloads. The announcement forms a part of the NHS Long Term Plan which will aim to reduce hospital admissions, improve life expectancy and bring significant changes to primary and community healthcare. Will this help for GPs bring the improvements that are desperately needed?

20,000 staff to help under-pressure GPs

According to a new announcement by the NHS, around 20,000 new staff will be recruited to work alongside GPs and relieve the pressures associated with general practice. Workers will include pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics and other professions who will be able to help free up GP time to treat patients with more serious conditions. This will improve healthcare in the community, helping to tackle some of the issues caused by an ageing population. At present, the average GP appointment lasts 8 minutes, which GPs argue does not provide enough time advise patients with more complex and serious issues.

More help for GPs

The plans form part of an additional £2.8bn funding boost for general practice that has been agreed by the BMA and the NHS. It is hoped this will bring significant improvements to general practice and community healthcare. The move should also bring a more flexible health service to patients and bring down the barriers that currently exist between general practice and health services in the community.

While the news has been welcomed, there are still concerns over the need to recruit more doctors. The solution has been seen as a ‘sticking plaster’ by some, instead of focusing on ensuring GPs stay in their jobs, as well as driving recruitment. Previous promises to increase the number of doctors in the NHS have not been fulfilled, with the number of doctors actually falling by 400 in recent years. More and more doctors are switching to part-time, while there are doctors in training who have no intention of working full-time when they qualify.

It’s estimated that there is a shortage of 6,000 GPs in England, with big differences in GP access across the country.

Improving community health

The recent announcements form a part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan, which will see some significant improvements to community healthcare. GP practices will have their own pharmacists to perform medicine reviews, as well as ‘social-prescribing link workers’ who will prescribe care in the form of exercise classes to aid weight loss, and groups that can help mental health patients.

The plans to recruit additional health workers is ambitious, with further concerns over where and how staff will be recruited when there are already shortages. However, BMA leaders are supportive of the plans and the benefits they could bring patients and doctors.

Providing more flexible services to patients through video appointments, evening appointments, etc. can benefit patient care, but doctors can also look for more flexible arrangements to help ease the pressures of GP working. There are currently out of hours vacancies available in East Berkshire that provide GPs with a new way of working and a different take on the GP role. Our blog has a wealth of information on working in out of hours that could provide you with more information on making the switch. You can also listen to what GPs who have made the switch and who now work for us think by visiting our YouTube channel.