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NEWS: Practice workforce problems not solved

by in GP Practice Management, News

Adding new professions to practice teams will not substitute for the loss of key medical and nursing clinicians, a major report is due to say today.

The report by the Health Foundation will look at the impact of efforts to add new workers to general practice teams.

Under the new GP contract, up to 20,000 extra professionals are due to be recruited through clinical networks. These may include paramedics, pharmacists and physiotherapists. Today’s report will highlight a decline in the number of practice nurses and the continuing battle to increase the number of GPs working in the UK.

The Royal College of GPs said the report would highlight the “dire straits” that the general practice workforce is currently in.

Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said it “hammers home just how much we need to see every effort taken to increase the numbers of family doctors working in the NHS.”

She added: “It is really positive to see that strides are being made to increase the numbers of other members of the practice team, some more than others, and it remains concerning to see a continued decline in practice nurse numbers. Nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and so on play an integral role in supporting GPs to make more than a million patient consultations a day across the country, and most practices would not be able to function without the hard work and dedication of our wider team.

“What’s important is that patients are clear about the role of each member of the practice team – including what care and services each can and can’t deliver – and that there is no doubt that allied healthcare professionals will support GPs, not replace them. It takes at least ten years to train a GP and the level of skill it takes to deliver truly holistic care to patients, and manage immense amounts of risk, cannot be substituted.

“We want to see efforts to continue to increase numbers of all members of the practice team. But we also need to see efforts re-doubled to recruit and retain more GPs, who will lead these teams.”

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