Pharmacists, physios, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing support workers will free up GPs to spend more time with patients who need them most as well ensuring patients have access to a wide range of services at their local practice.
A new five-year contract for general practice across England will see billions of extra investment for improved access to family doctors, expanded services at local practices and longer appointments for patients who need them.
NHS England will fund 20,000 more staff to help GP practices work together as part of a local ‘primary care network’.
This builds on the increase of 5,000 extra practice staff working with GPs over the past four years. Core funding increases will also support more practice nurses and GPs, with the number of young doctors choosing to train as GPs now at a record high. This builds on the progress which saw evening and weekend appointments made available across the country in December, three months ahead of schedule, meaning an extra nine million are available at potentially more convenient times.
The NHS Long Term Plan will see funding for primary medical and community care increase as a share of the NHS budget for the first time in the health service’s 70-year history, with an extra £4.5 billion invested by 2023.
The deal also sets out specific changes to provide dedicated support for care home residents, tackle inequalities in care, significantly improve prescribing safety and medication, the management of diabetes, and end-of-life care.
Half a century after nurses became a core part of general practice in the contract deal of 1966, this one will mean that thousands of pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics and social prescribers will all also now become a core part of local primary care teams.
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out how Primary Care Networks will join up the delivery of urgent care in the community. This will be included in part of a new £300 million Fund by 2023 for networks to make faster progress. It means general practice will benefit from the impact their work has in reducing avoidable A&E attendances, admissions and delayed discharge, and from reducing avoidable outpatient visits and improvements in prescribing through medication reviews.
Simon Stevens said:
“This five-year deal unarguably represents the biggest boost to primary care in more than fifteen years, giving patients more convenient services at their local GP surgery while breaking down the divide between family doctors and community health services. It provides the practical foundation for the big service improvements in the NHS Long Term Plan. Patients across England – in towns, villages and cities – will all begin to see the benefits, beginning this year. And it allows us to keep all that’s best about British general practice while future-proofing it for the decade ahead.”
Ian Dodge, National Director for Strategy and Innovation at NHS England who led discussions with the BMA, said:
“General practice is the bedrock of the NHS, and the NHS needs general practice to survive and thrive. Through this comprehensive deal, the BMA and NHS England have sought to solve the big problems that general practice faces, and make it possible to expand services for patients. Having a Long Term Plan has allowed us to come up with a five-year funding deal for primary care, for the first time in NHS history. And it is also a good deal for taxpayers, with money going directly into extra staff and services.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS England’s Acting Medical Director for Primary Care, added:
“This Contract gives five-year funding clarity and certainty for practices while giving patients improved services. Primary medical and community care resources will increase by £4.5 billion by 2023-24 and rise as a share of the overall NHS budget. And this agreement confirms how much of this new investment will stabilise and transform primary care through general practice and the evolution of Primary Care Networks. It’s a game changer and signals the start of a new era for general practice.”