Patients should be able to see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live, and GPs should not face barriers to doing their vital work. That is why the Government has set out a new plan, including a £250 million winter access fund, to increase the number of face-to-face appointments and help tackle underperformance, as well as setting out more measures to tackle abuse at GP surgeries to make sure staff can work without fear for their safety.
This is part of the Government’s major drive to support GPs, level up performance, and ensure that everyone can see their GP in the way they want as we build back better.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:
“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.
“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 Government is doing this by:
- Publishing a plan for improving access to GP appointments with a £250 million fund so that patients can see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live. This plan, including a £250 million winter access fund, provides general practice teams with targeted support to help tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments.
- Increasing the oversight of practices and publishing GP appointment data to improve transparency tackle underperformance. There will be increased oversight of practices and GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring next year, as currently monthly data is only published by CCGs – enhancing transparency and accountability.
- Setting out more measures to tackle abuse and harassment so staff at GP surgeries, who work tirelessly to care for patients, can do so without fear for their safety. Alongside the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Government will develop a zero-tolerance campaign on abuse of NHS staff, including GP teams.
- Freeing up more time for appointments by cutting red tape for GPs. The Government is reducing administrative burdens on GPs by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificate such as FIT notes and DVLA checks.
- Enabling patients to see different types of clinicians in general practice so their needs can be best met. Patients will be able to see different types of clinicians in general practice, who can best meet their needs and conditions, including pharmacists, paramedics, advanced nurse practitioners and nursing associates.
- Considering how the role of pharmacists can be increased in the supply of medication to relieve workload on GPs. The Government will work with NHS England to consider how far and fast the role of pharmacists can be increased in the supply of medication.
- Supporting upgrades to telephone systems so patients can quickly and easily speak to GP staff. Under this plan, the Government is supporting the improvement of telephone systems to help the public avoid long waits when contacting a surgery by phone.
The Government is backing our NHS by:
- Delivering the biggest catchup programme in the NHS’s history, so that everyone can get the care they deserve. Over the next three years, this additional £36 billion of funding will deliver the equivalent of around nine million more checks, scans and procedures – and elective activity will be around 30% than it was before the pandemic. Once the NHS has recovered from the pandemic, activity should be 10% higher than under the NHS Long Term Plan.
- Giving our NHS the biggest cash boost in history, and enshrining that increase into law, safeguarding it for future generations. The Government is investing an additional £33.9 billion into frontline NHS services every year by 2023-24, the largest and longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS.
- Building 40 new hospitals across England and upgrading 20 more, which will make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff and patients. Our £3.7 billion hospital building programme is the biggest of its kind in a generation, which will deliver 48 hospitals by 2030. The Government is also providing £850 million to support 20 hospitals in upgrading outdated facilities and equipment.
- Overseeing a record number of doctors and nurses for our NHS, meaning it can continue to provide the world-class care patients deserve. The number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS across England has hit record levels and the Government is on track to meet our manifesto commitment to deliver 50,000 more nurses by 2024.
General practice teams have delivered more than 300 million appointments over the last year as well as delivering the vast majority of Covid vaccinations, saving lives and protecting millions of people against the virus at speed. GP staff have been incredible through the pandemic, and appointment numbers are already back to pre-pandemic levels. These measures will give them extra support to increase access, prevent abuse, and offer more face-to-face appointments.
For more information on the Government’s plan to improve access for NHS patients and support GPs, including comments from the chief executive of the NHS, please visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2021/10/plan-set-out-to-improve-access-for-nhs-patients-and-support-gps/.
To view ‘Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice’ in full, please visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/our-plan-for-improving-access-for-patients-and-supporting-general-practice/.