GPs and practice teams provide vital services for patients. They are at the heart of our communities, the foundation of the NHS and internationally renowned. But services are now under unprecedented pressure and, as set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, it has become clear that action is needed so we have a responsive NHS, fit for the future.
The General Practice Forward View, published in April 2016, sets out a plan, backed by a multi-billion pound investment, to stabilise and transform general practice.
It has been developed with Health Education England and in discussion with the Royal College of GPs and other GP representatives.
It commits to an extra £2.4 billion a year to support general practice services by 2020/21. This means spending will rise from £9.6 billion in 2015/16 to over £12 billion by 2021 – a 14 percent real terms increase.
This investment will be supplemented by a one off five-year £500 million national sustainability and transformation package to support GP practices, and includes additional funds from local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
The plan also contains specific, practical and funded steps to grow and develop workforce, drive efficiencies in workload and relieve demand, modernise infrastructure and technology, and support local practices to redesign the way modern primary care is offered to patients.
Summary of the General Practice Forward View
On workforce it details action to double the growth rate in GPs, through new incentives for training, recruitment, retention and return to practice. Having taken the past 10 years to achieve a net increase of around 5,000 full time equivalent GPs, the aim is to add a further 5,000 net in just the next five years. In addition, 3,000 new fully funded practice-based mental health therapists, an extra 1,500 co-funded practice clinical pharmacists, and nationally funded support for practice nurses, physician assistants, practice managers and receptionists.
On workload the plan sets out a new practice resilience programme to support struggling practices, changes to streamline the Care Quality Commission inspection regime, support for GPs suffering from burnout and stress, cuts in red-tape, legal limits on administrative burdens at the hospital/GP interface, and action to cut inappropriate demand on general practice.
On infrastructure it proposes upgrades to practice premises, new proposals to allow up to 100 percent reimbursement of premises developments, direct practice investment technology to support better online tools and appointment, consultation and workload management systems, and better record sharing to support team work across practices.
On care redesign it signals practical support for individual practices and for federations and super-partnerships; direct funding for improved in hours and out of hours access, including clinical hubs and reformed urgent care; and a new voluntary GP contract supporting integrated primary and community health services.
General practice in 2020 will not look the same. It will be able to work at scale making best use of new technologies. There will be development and expansion of the workforce and better premises. There will be improved signposting of patients to the most appropriate service for them or where appropriate supporting them to self-care. And GPs working as part of a more joined up primary care workforce will be able devote the greatest amount of time to quality and health improvement for patients and local communities.
The General Practice Forward View is a substantial package of investment and transformation. What matters now is getting on and delivering it so that practices can start to feel the difference. An advisory oversight group with patients and partners (including the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee and the RCGP) will steer the implementation of the measures outlined in this General Practice Forward View. This is a five year programme of work, and it will be important that we continue to learn and respond to changing circumstances..
Find out more
Read the General Practice Forward View.
Join in the discussion on Twitter at #GPforwardview.