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'New deal': 1,000 new physicians associates by 2020

The health secretary has announced there will be 1,000 new physicians associates working in general practice by 2020 as part of the ‘new deal’ to alleviate the GP workforce crisis.

Delivering the speech in South London today, Jeremy Hunt also said community pharmacy would be given £7.5m through the £1bn announced in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement to help provide extended hours working in practices.

As Pulse has already reported, the new deal will include a £10m fund for struggling practices, which will provide advice and support for practices to stave off closure, as well as a number of measures already announced as part of NHS England’s ‘ten-point plan’ to increase the GP workforce.

The health secretary said that the profession was a ‘hamster wheel’ for GPs, and that the workload crisis had to be addressed, but he reiterated any investment would be in return for a move to a seven-day service.

As part of efforts to tackle workload, he announced there would be 1,000 new physician associate roles by 2020 - the first concrete target given by the Government for the new role.

Pulse has reported that one CCG has already started recruiting them from the US in a bid to address workforce issues.

However, the scheme has been criticised by some GPs, who warn that they are not a replacement for GPs, and will not have the same expertise.

But Mr Hunt said that the Government is looking to push on with plans to train more physician associates.

He said: ‘Innovation in the workforce skill mix will be vital to ensure GPs are supported in their work by other practitioners.

‘I have already announced pilots for new physicians associates, but today I can announce that those pilots plan to ensure 1,000 physicians’ associates will be available to work in general practice by September 2020.’

These will be part of the 5,000 extra practice staff, in addition to the pledge made in the Conservatives’ manifesto for 5,000 new GPs overall.

Mr Hunt said that these new practice staff will also include community pharmacists.

He spoke of a pilot in Brighton which was able to use pharmacists to help offer evening and weekend access, which gave pharmacists ‘equal access’ to GP records.

He said:  ‘I can today announce that £7.5m of the primary care infrastructure fund for this year will be used to support community pharmacists with training and appropriate tools.’

Alongside this, he announced a range of measures to tackle workforce, many of which were in the ten-point plan. They included:

  • NHS England releasing statistics on clinical staffing levels in each practice today;
  • A marketing campaign led by NHS England and the RCGP to attract medical graduates to the profession;
  • A returners scheme, which has already attracted 50 GPs back to English general practice;
  • A scheme to retain GPs nearing retirement age, which is being worked on with the BMA;
  • A pre-GP year, which he claimed had been a success in the West Midlands.

Related images

  • Jeremy Hunt - online

Readers' comments (54)

  • More low level staff ; More risk : More stress - Is this the best Mr hunt can manage ?

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  • Mr Hunt wants to replace us with a new (cheaper?) workforce of Physician associates. Isn't it time we took this into our own hands and started working up a new model based on proven European systems?

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  • Dear medical students
    Please come and be a GP where we will denigrate your position by eventually replacing you with cheaper less skilled staff...
    after all, they're just as good at the job.

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  • my money was on robots

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  • can we go private now? and leave these 'physicians associates' and jeremy hunt to their own devices?

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  • No useless PAs will be entering my practice.
    I need people who know what they are doing.
    I employed an NP last year and they were so useless they were sacked within weeks.
    The same will happen here.
    We will simply run with ever diminishing partners plus salarieds and locums.
    Out in 2 years.

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  • Do you really want to risk working with someone who is not a doctor? Where is the money coming from for these people - would it not have been better invested in real GPs?

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  • Maths, maths, maths:

    1,000 Physician Associates vs. 10,000 GP Practices.

    5,000 GPs vs. No-one wants to be a GP

    £10,000,000 'investment' vs. 60,000,000 population

    60% increase in hours vs. 10% increase in workforce (if you can get it)

    Sorry, it don't add up Mr Hunt

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  • Hunt hasn't looked at the recruitment for 2015-2016 East Midlands zero... West Midlands zero... Deficit of applicants -1700 GPvts...

    Resignations 50%
    Retirement 30%

    Good luck .. I just resigned :) free as a bird

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  • "New Deal"?
    Mans an Idiot

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