Last Updated: 07 February 2019
Created: 04 February 2019
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has welcomed the news that the new NHS Long Term Plan is being used to improve access to & funding for primary care services, including GPs.
The NHS Long Term Plan sets out plans to modernise the health service and explains how the extra £20.5 billion a year for the NHS which was announced last year to build on existing record funding will be spent.
The latest announcements made today as part of the 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 a year invested by 2023.
NHS England will fund 20,000 more staff to help GP practices work together as part of a local ‘Primary Care Networks’. The new recruits – 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.
The plan for improving general practice will see core funding increase by £978 million per year by 2023/24 and, from July, NHS England will introduce new localised “Primary Care Networks” to improve the link between GPs and other NHS care providers; a plan worth an extra £1.799 billion, or £1.47 million per typical network covering 50,000 people.
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.
Patient access will continue to improve, including the introduction of digital appointments, backed by a new patient right to web and video consultations by 2021.
The new proposals compliment 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 more convenient times.
It means GP practices will be able to drive further action on killer conditions such as cancer and heart disease as well as doing more to tackle obesity, diabetes and mental ill health, and support older people at home and in care homes.
Among the other measures in the new Primary Care Contract are:
- A new £300 million Fund by 2023 will include networks making faster progress in achieving the outcomes described in the NHS Long Term Plan. This will mean that 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.
- A new primary care Fellowship Scheme will be introduced for newly qualifying nurses and GPs, as well as Training Hubs.
- From April this year, clinically-proven improvements in the management of diabetes, blood pressure control and cervical screening, through reforms to the GP Quality and Outcomes Framework, with further changes in the pipeline on heart failure, asthma, COPD, and mental health.
- From April this year, new support for quality improvement, starting with prescribing safety and end-of-life care.
- Additional funding of IT which will allows both patients and practices to benefit from the latest digital technologies. All patients will have the right to digital-first primary care, including web and video consultations in 2021. They will also be able to order repeat prescriptions electronically from April 2019 and have digital access to their full records from 2020.
- From April this year, direct booking of calls from NHS 111 into GP surgeries when clinically appropriate.
- Protecting the principle that general practice remains free on the NHS, through a new ban on advertising or hosting private GP services.
- Ensuring public confidence to invest in the GP partnership model, through increased transparency of NHS earnings, and a new mechanism to protect against unexpectedly high or low earnings.
- Solving the indemnity funding crisis, through a new NHS Resolution Clinical Negligence Scheme for general practice to start from April 2019. All general practice will be covered, including out of hours and all staff groups as well as new recruits. It means they won’t pay indemnity cover and they will be protected from future inflated indemnity costs.
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “I am delighted that as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England has put a real focus on improving access to GP & other primary care services. With an extra £4.5 billion a year being invested in primary care services, including a core funding increase of almost £1 billion a year for GPs, alongside better local integration of clinicians, patients’ access to treatment will significantly improve. This new funding will ensure patients can be seen by the most appropriate clinician first-time, and at a time which is convenient for them. This new funding will make a real difference to patients in Swindon who need to access GP & other primary care services.”
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.”
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 a year 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.”