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New plan to improve access to General Practice

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More patients will be able to see GPs More patients will be able to see GPs

A new plan will provide additional funding to increase the proportion of face-to-face appointments, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

Surgeries will be provided with additional funding to boost their capacity to increase the proportion of appointments delivered face to face, as part of a major drive to support general practice and level up performance, including additional efforts to tackle abuse against staff.

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‘I am determined to ensure patients can see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live. I also want to thank GPs and their teams for their enormous efforts in the most challenging times in living memory,’ said Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid.

‘Our new plan provides general practice teams with investment and targeted support. This will tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments. Alongside this we are setting out more measures to tackle abuse and harassment so staff at GP surgeries who work so tirelessly to care for patients can do so without having to fear for their safety.’

The measures, including a £250 million winter access fund from NHS England, will enable GP practices to improve availability so that patients who need care can get it, often on the same day if needed. The investment will fund locums and support from other health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists, with a focus on increasing capacity to boost urgent same-day care. This is in addition to £270 million invested over the previous 11 months to expand capacity and support GPs.

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‘As a nurse on the frontline during the pandemic I know how hard GPs and their teams have worked, while recognising how badly so many people want to see their GPs in person,’ said Health Minister Maria Caulfield.

‘This plan will give our dedicated general practices the support needed to increase capacity, boosting the number of appointments for patients to see and speak to their GP practice.’

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Comments

The Secretary of States recent announcement of a 'one off' £250 million to help primary care return to 'face to face' consultations is, in my opinion, a token gesture, this relatively modest amount of money will quickly be used up on locums. Primary care, and in particular 'same day urgent care' needs a major overhaul of the existing model.

Whilst remote consultations might be seen as a positive move for individual practices it is seen very differently by patients - instead patients are becoming increasingly frustrated and turning to urgent care and emergency departments for their genuine primary care clinical needs. This month the UK had its worst ever performance figures for accident and emergency, this will inevitably continue. The solution has to be a nationally coordinated urgent care service, this will need adequate recurring financial investment. The present short term 'cash injections' will quickly be spent on locum agencies and demonstrate nothing of lasting benefit.

Mike Paynter
Consultant Nurse
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