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NHS England's flagship GP time-saving scheme frees up '120,000 clinical hours'

Exclusive A flagship programme to relieve pressured GP practices has so far freed up 121,000 hours of clinical time, NHS England has claimed.

It said the 'Time for Care' scheme, launched with the 2016 GP Forward View rescue plan, had further released over 192,000 hours of administrative time.

The programme, which has been implemented in over a thousand practices, includes offering phone and online consultations, cutting DNAs, improving GPs’ ‘personal productivity’, partnership working and social prescribing among other areas.

However GP leaders were cautious about the findings, saying feedback on the scheme’s success has been 'variable at best'.

Time for Care programme in numbers

CCGs which have implemented the programme: 178

Practices participating: 1,008

Clinical hours saved: 120,903

Administrative time saved: 192,463

Source: NHS England, figures spanning April 2016-July 2018

Pulse previously reported that the scheme, which pledged to free up around 10% of GPs’ time through ten ‘high-impact actions’, was given a fund worth £30m – of which £8m was spent in its first year

Time for Care Programme lead Alison Tongue presented the new data at the NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo last month.

She said: ‘As well as becoming more efficient, we also bring GPs together as groups of practices during the process and they work more collaboratively, which is often new for some practices to step outside of their own practice and work with others.’

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that 'it would logically fall that where investment has been made and care redesigned general practice has benefitted'. But he added that the scheme would 'require time, funding and support to really make a difference'.

He said: ‘Our own members tell us that success has been variable at best, with more than half of LMCs surveyed this year saying they had not seen any improvement since the launch of the programme.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We have a rigorous quality assurance process which verifies the practice identified amount of clinical time for GPs and nurses, as well as administrative time, released by the Time for Care programme.’

Note: This article was updated at 11.30 on 11 October to reflect NHS England's clarification that 120,000 clinical hours saved relates to GPs and other practice clinicians.

NHS England's 10 High Impact Actions

  1. Active signposting - online portal and reception navigation
  2. New consultation types - telephone, e-consultations, text message, group consultations
  3. Reduce DNAs - easy cancellation, reminders, patient recording, read-back, reporting attendances, reduce 'just in case'
  4. Develop the team - advanced nurse practitioner, physician associates, pharmacists, medical assistants, paramedics, therapists
  5. Productive work flows - matching capacity and demand, efficient processes, productive environment
  6. Personal productivity - personal resilience, computer confidence, speed reading, touch typing
  7. Partnership working - productive federation, community pharmacy, specialists, community services
  8. Social prescribing - practice based navigators, external service
  9. Support self care - Prevention, acute episodes, long term conditions
  10. Develop QI expertise - leadership of change, process improvement, rapid cycle management, measurement

Source: NHS England's GP Forward View

Readers' comments (26)

  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha
    Here we go again
    121,000 hours , hard-core , technocratic figures from NHSE.
    Just like we talked about the 70,000 target on CAMHS yesterday. People will only respect you guys if you concretely get down to produce some positive outcomes, with less rhetorical bu****it(expletive).

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  • I suspect that if all the scheme and ideas coming of out NHSE were scrapped, and the money was just invested in to the global sum you would:
    - Have less wasted money
    - Have more GPs
    - Have more GP appointments

    It is so simple - but just continuously ignored.

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  • Doctor McDoctor Face

    and the 5000 extra GPs..........

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  • To be honest if I saved 10% of my time the NHS would see no benefit at all. I would simply go home at 18.30 instead of 20.30 daily and my family would benefit and maybe I wouldn’t burn out ...... but the NHS would get no more of me as there is no more to give

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  • That's about 3-4 hours per GP. Over 2 years. We're saved!

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  • More management speak appearing to do a lot but actually achieving very little. It boils down to workload and responsibility and staff : patient numbers. Noticed the speed typing and personal resilience. In plain English this = do more, take more clinical risks seeing more cases and no help.

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  • So 120,903 + 192,463 = 313366 hours saved. Sounds amazing.
    Wait this is over 28 months. Ok so that's ...
    134300 hours a year. Ok still sounds good.

    So a full time GP works at least 4 x 12 hour days, so 48 hours a week, 2208 hours a year (if they have 6 weeks holiday)

    So this is 60.8 WTE GPs per year. That's really great. What's that? Its over 1008 practices.

    So that is 0.06 of a WTE GP per practice. Hmm

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  • I work in a practice of 13,000 patients and am often on call for the whole practice on Monday and Friday morning. It is unusual to have more than one visit for the whole practice and I do virtually no paper work, repeat prescriptions or complex multi drug reviews. We never believed there would be 5000 more GPs and in fact the national focus on this reduced focus on coming up with other solutions. There are three things that have changed my life in the last 5 years. 1) a prescribing pharmacist that does most of the paper work and repeat prescriptions, 2) a nurse practitioners that leads a monthly multi disciplinary team meeting that proactively manages the top 5% of the practice population that are very frail and terminally ill and 3) the ability for me to see instantly all the important hospital information and for hospital doctors to see my notes.
    There is clear evidence that you could reduce the work of GPs across the country by at least 50% with new models of care and skill-mix, the focus on 5000 GPs takes energy away from solving the problem in other ways.

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  • I saved 15 minutes yesterday AM, skipped a tea break and a wee.

    Might you was a tad more ratty at the end of surgery and probably less productive!

    Usual NHS E flagship bilge.

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  • Dr Reflection- 13000 patients and not more than 1 home visit?? How do you do that. We’v got 15000+ and on average 10 a day or more. You don’t seem to have elderly patients, housebounds or care homes?
    You ‘re either a magician or paid by the DOH to come up with those fantasies that 50% of workload can reduced. I’ve only seen workload going up over the last 15 years despite multidisciplinary team and focusing on high attenders.

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