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Some areas will struggle to recruit extra PCN staff, admits NHS England

Some areas across the country will struggle to recruit the 20,000 additional primary care staff, NHS England has said. 

Speaking at the NAPC conference yesterday in Birmingham, NHS England director of primary care and system transformation Dominic Hardy admitted that it will be a 'real challenge' to employ 22,000 extra practice staff in some parts of England. 

Under the new network contract DES, funding will be unlocked to employ 22,000 additional practice staff – including pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing workers – by 2023/24.

NHS England has guaranteed to cover 70% of the costs for pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics and physician associates and 100% for social prescribers.

In a Q&A on the current key issues in primary care, a member of the audience expressed concerns over the recruitment of the extra staff for the networks, including pharmacists and physios.

She asked Mr Hardy whether NHS England will allow 'any relaxation of those additional roles to be actually able to employ additional roles'.

In response, Mr Hardy recognised that some areas, such as the south west, will face 'real challenges' to recruit further staff. 

He said: 'I don’t know. In the south west in particular I know we’ve got real challenges in the availability of some of the staff in those groups. What I think we’re doing next year is saying that there’s flexibility to recruit between the roles that will be part of the DES for 2020 one in the same level for the four years.

'I don't think it’s likely, if I’m completely honest, that we’re going to relax that entirely at the same level of DES for the coming years for them understaffed groups.'

He added: 'I think there are going to be things that we’re going to have to do for parts of the country like yours where the supply of clinical pharmacists, for example, I know it’s a massive challenge.

'We need to help our teams, locally and regionally, and get on board with HEE and the universities and think about how we are going to generate the supply because we know we’re going to be in this position for years and years to come and I completely agree that’s just unacceptable.'

Also speaking at the conference, and echoing Mr Hardy's comments, BMA GP committee member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni called the target of getting an extra 20,000 staff 'ambitious'.

GP leaders have previously expressed concerns that some networks - particularly those in deprived areas - might struggle to cover the remaining 30% of funding for some of the additional roles

In June, NHS Clinical Commissioners told Pulse that some of its members 'are concerned' their core funding is not enough to deliver the £1.50 per patient as mandated in the five-year GP contract.

Meanwhile, NHS England recently revealed that networks who will complete the seven national service requirements 'further' and 'faster' will be offered additional funding

Readers' comments (9)

  • genuinely asking, but where is the evidence this stuff has worked, has there been longer term pilots that have shown stellar results for patient care and reduction in costs etc.

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  • So the penny has finally dropped? What a waste of time. Without controlling unlimited demand, unless one has limitless resources, nothing is going to work.

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  • The additional staff are now holding out for salaries well above that which is reimbursed with protected terms and conditions and a cap on workload (why wouldn’t you). This is called supply my and demand!
    Good to know a proportion a primary care staff are fortunate to have this kind of role
    If only!

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  • are we supposed to be surprised by this; this has to be the biggest crock of poo ever;

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  • Excellent.

    The premise was that PCNs could pay for 70% of staff that you had never wanted in the first place, but now even that will be difficult to achieve.

    So what is the point?

    Oh, wait. There are all of those other requirements that you'll have to deliver from year 2 - but you won't have the extra staff.

    Better that the GP surgeries do it, you're all ideally placed etc...

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  • "Challenge" - a common misleading use of this word.
    Why not be straightforward and say "very difficult if not impossible".
    iIt's simple little things like this that leads to a breakdown in trust and in the end actually impedes.
    Stare at the sun please.

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  • "policenthieves"--so true. While NHSE, CCG and the GMC want doctors to be open and honest, it is a case of do as I say not as I do. So much for reflection.

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  • Congratulations Mr Hardy for this appropriately bleak follow-on to Jude the Obscure.

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  • it was a poorly devised contract with no real funding designed for PCNs to fail and be sold off to a private health care company. However even these companies would not touch GP as it stands as its not sustainable for the current workload at the current re reimbursement rates. Most NHS employed staff provide far and above what they are actually paid to provide for the good of their patients which is never factored in by non medic accountants when looking at the figures involved. This is why private companies fail when taking over NHS contracts. This programme was doomed to failure before it even started as the monies involved never actually covered the full cost of the suggested work required. Took me 15 minutes to work out that one from the numbers supplied. My advice to any GP practice is to leave any PCN contract asap before you get lumbered with all the costs.

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