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  • NMC expands options for demonstrating English language proficiency for overseas nursing staff

    NMC expands options for demonstrating English language proficiency for overseas nursing staff

    Tuesday, 24 October 2017 16:03
  • Funding bids invited for second phase of pharmacist recruitment for general practice

    Funding bids invited for second phase of pharmacist recruitment for general practice

    Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:34
  • RCP publishes guide for employing physician associates

    RCP publishes guide for employing physician associates

    Tuesday, 26 September 2017 15:55
  • NMC issues advice on responding to unexpected incidents emergencies

    NMC issues advice on responding to unexpected incidents emergencies

    Tuesday, 22 August 2017 10:54

ReformApril 13 2016

GPs could transfer 50% of appointments they currently conduct to other professionals, a think tank has proposed. Doing so would save the NHS £727 million in the process.

A more diverse workforce could see greater use of pharmacists or nurses administering an estimated 57 million appointments (15% of the total number of general practice appointments) consumed by common conditions and medicines-related problems each year.

Further efficiencies could be made by having general practice care “delivered by larger providers, capable of offering a range of extended services, such as diagnostics, urgent care or minor surgery, seven days a week,” said the paper published by Reform. It has suggested there should be more super-surgeries with 70,000 or more patients, which could save £1.1 billion a year.

“Providers offering best practice in England and elsewhere hold patient lists at least ten times larger than today’s average list size of 7,400 patients; many aspire to operate at multiples of that. This affords providers the size to invest in front-end change and exploit back-end efficiencies, including making the most of technology.”

Other savings that could be made include:

  • £274 million each year by encouraging online triaging to levels matching the number of people who use the internet each day;
  • up to £1.9 billion by 2020-21 by increasing the focus on prevention for healthy patients, and self-management of long-term conditions;

Reform was established in 2001 as an independent think tank to look at how to provide public services more effectively and to benefit the economy. It’s latest report, ‘Who cares? The future of general practice’, has said that elderly and chronically ill patients need integrated, accessible and extended care in the community.

“Instead, general practice providers remain small, care is episodic rather than coordinated and technology is not exploited. For taxpayers, this creates huge financial inefficiencies, as GPs handle appointments regardless of need, care is not delivered in the most cost-efficient place and economies of scale are not leveraged.

The RCGP has challenged claims that the public would like seven-day GP services. Responding to Reform’s claims, the RCGP has said the public expressed the view that extended hours services must not come at the expense of services in core hours.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP Chair, said: “This support for seven-day general practice services flies in the face of our own research – and the fact that a number of surgeries that have piloted seven-day working have had to scale-down services due to a lack of patient demand at weekends.”

She warned that 95% of GPs in a RCGP poll thought that extending services would have a negative effect on recruitment, and four in five said it would make them more likely to leave general practice. Its survey also found that only 31% of patients felt it should be the priority.

“Access to general practice services is undoubtedly important, but patients recognise that prioritising weekend and evening access must not come at the expense of access and services during normal hours. They have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than have their ears syringed,” she said.

“Many of the recommendations in today’s report cannot be done in most practices with the time and resources available. Relying more on practice nurses, for example, is impossible when many surgeries are struggling to recruit – and existing practice nurses aren’t simply sitting around waiting for patients to walk through the door, they are under just as much pressure as GPs.

Links:

Reform announcement

Reform ‘Who cares? The future of general practice’ report

RCGP response

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