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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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  • great idea - 7 day working - that will really encourage retention & recruitment

    doh

    is this the best they can do ?

    where is the evidence base for physicians assistants ?
    what happened to the practice based pharmacists Maureen Baker promised us all in March ???

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  • well I was waiting until today with baited breath !!
    But decided there now ... thats it -the end - last bow will give 3 month notice before weekend - gone at 41
    off to tell the other partners
    HOW DARE HE CALL THIS DISGRACE A 'NEW DEAL'
    I had 25 more years to give - and am simply unable to cope anymore - had held out just in case something changed . decision made - GOING ASAP

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  • I booked my medical exam for Australinan visa last week. I don't think I will be asking for refund.
    What an idiot you are JH you call this a new deal !!
    I truely feel sorry for my colleagues who stuck with this idiot as a health secretary.

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  • PA and NP are great for other people, but when I'm ill I will see a doctor thank you.

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  • 1. Not New Deal - its a Raw Deal.

    2. Please lets all call Physician Assistants as Health Secretaries

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  • Dear Mr Hunt,,

    Thank you for letting me know the details of the New Deal. I am half-way through the process of emigrating to Australia and your latest news has made me feel even more confident of my plans to go abroad. I was always under the (false) impression that something dramatic and good is going to happen to General Practice in the UK during this Government's tenure and that I should wait a bit longer before deciding on going abroad, but now I am very grateful that your New Deal is not going to make me feel guilty about anything any more.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

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  • No new money without 7 day working?
    That's no new money then.

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  • Jeremy has said that a deal is a deal and needs both sides to co-operate and keep their end of the bargain. Fairs fair - I will co-operate and undertake 7 day working as part of a rota if and when you have recruited an EXTRA 5000 FTE GP's. I reckon my weekends are safe for a while. *(when I say safe - I mean they will still be there to catch up on the paperwork (QOF CQC Admissions avoidance etc etc) I haven't had time to do during the week)

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  • Are you taking the Pi&& ?
    7 day working- we cannot cover 5 days effectively
    Recruitment drive- what a laugh-new people tempted in when they look at what current GPs are doing- early retirements, changing careers, going overseas, private practice- look at the options- stay in GP is not one of them, 5000 new GPs- we be lucky to have 5000s GP at all.
    GPs need to take action, BMA, GMC, RCGP all useless. Striking will not work, but we should be opting out of all additional work, extras/ urgents- send to nearest ED, OOH, unfunded work- return to sender!
    Refuse all part 1 and 2 death certs?
    Seriously we cannot sit by and do nothing, the profession is falling apart.
    7 day so-op will soon be 7 day each practice,
    Collectively we need to take action / opt out- it is the only way to have a voice for us grass route GPs, actually seeing the patients and doing the work to have a voice.

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  • the public needs to know tha\t there is a need to check on the credentials of those they are referred to from now on. My family won't be seeing a trainee unless accompanied by a qualifies medic - not on a mon/tues/wed/thurs/fri/sat or sunday

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  • where our lovely RCGP can't stand up once in their history and tell those idot poticiacn to stop mess up with NHS .
    there are better solution for the work force crisis . start at univesty level and encourge medical student to come to our professional , local GP schemes needs to do more our , primary care department at univesty needs to do more to attack younf medical f1, f2 to the professional . we also need to stop gievn the negative impression to medical student and f1, f2 when they do placement in general practice.lastley we need to scrap 2 years in hospital training for GP and put them in general practice where the have the best opportunity ,ONLY needs 6 month in acute medicience and 18 month in general practice to qualified as a gp better use of tax payer money and quick turn over of GP

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  • Thanks for clarity today - Now no remorse to emigrate

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  • Yay ! we are saved

    200 a year for 5 years to service 60 million - genius !

    but best of all it has the backing of maureen - look out OBE here she comes.

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  • Jeremy Hunt demonstrating that he has not a clue what he is talking about. All other skill mix exercises to save money have led to a deterioration in quality and an increase in costs. I retired six months ago and nothing I have seen would drag me back.

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  • It seems to be fitting to have handed in my resignation this afternoon. Leaving for another specialty and not intending to come back. I wasn't planning on giving up GP aged 40 but stress and burnout has taken its toll.

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  • Okay , so basically they are going to bring in a large number of physician associates to gradually start replacing locum amd salaried GP's .I suspect eventually majority of practices will be run by a few partners delegating and overseeing the work to these physician associates . In this way the government will alleviate the pressure on themselves to train up more expensive GPs.I guess the GP partners will be carrying the risk for all the decisions these PA's make as well . Sounds fun.

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  • Now I am worried. All the jobs in Canada will be filled before I get there!
    Recruiting from the USA
    What does that tell you?

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  • Of course it's too politically inconvenient for one to try and reduce inappropriate patient demand?
    Why don't people with marital problems, inadequate housing, unhappy with benefit sanctions, requesting sick notes go to solicitors?? Why is it that GPs are always the first line for every single thing? It's because we are FREE! Imagine the outcry if the government tried to make the justice system more accessible and ensured that other services like solicitors, post office etc were available 24/7 with no real additional funding...Solicitors would simply not stand for this..why should we?

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  • How about some dementia screening for J. Hunt & LTd?
    so we would have NPs 9 some of them excellent with 10+ years experience
    and have a new layer of people unable as untrained to carry risk/carry out risk assessment--- this ain't gonna work

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  • come on this is a great deal........... for all those who got 3 c's at A level and studied other subjects. now they can all be pretend gp's (like they always wanted to do in the first place.

    Not being a snob and everyone has their place in society, but will the government just stop trying to replace us with cheap labour!!!

    There is tidal wave coming by the many that the few (us gp's) cannot stop.

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  • These physician associates will probable get 15 minutes atleast per appointment and get to play doctor .As to whether they will have the ability to make complex clinical decisions and have the breadth of knowledge to assimilate and manage the conditions we GPs do remains to be seen . However I am sure they will cover themselves very effectively by off loading all risk to themselves with 'GP informed' in the notes .

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  • recently did a locum with a practice in which junior staff given task to review letters and results. Pretty much all non-normal results i.e. more complicated results were passed on to GP. The interesting thing is that they were given more time to look through the letters than the GP who ended up with the harder stuff !

    so in effect funds are going to be diverted to staff who are not going to make a dent on our workload and instead increase are workload.

    secondly - we end up with the responsibility not the juniors as you will find out when the pharmacists pull out.

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  • It seems the comments made here concerning PAs (Physician Associates, not "physician's assistants") are overtly critical and evidently ill-informed. PAs are not replacements for general practitioners, they are an additional member of a healthcare team and will support existing and future general practitioners in primary care, as well as assuming roles in secondary and tertiary care, for which they will be trained, and safe and competent to practice. PA students have proven themselves academically, predominantly in an undergraduate program of healthcare or biomedical science, and will have worked, prior to commencing the PA program, in a healthcare role. PAs are trained to recognise the scope and limitations of their knowledge and abilities, and to know when to refer to other members of the healthcare team. Departments that already employ PAs, or are involved in their training, seem very satisfied and willing to continue their employment and/or training; their favourable reports have resulted in a greater number of areas wishing to utilise PAs as a very capable resource.

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  • Will Physician associates have to undergo a form a appraisal and revalidation of sufficient scrutiny ?

    Will they carry full clinical responsibility for all decisions they make ?

    Will they have sufficent medical indemnity cover - this will need to be robust if PA's are indeed going to be taking on clinical roles akin to GP'S as they will undoubtedly incur risk in managing the undifferentiated problems in general practice .

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  • Ladies and Gents.

    The message is loud and clear. The Govt do not want GPs anymore. Hence Pension raid, Daily Mail, New Contract, New deal, 7/7 access, Named GP, CQC, More CQC etc etc etc etc etc. Get out of the pension scheme if you are in your 30s.

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  • Physician Assistant = An assistant to a physician, who in this context is, presumably a GP). Can such a thing exist if there are no physicians.

    If so, can they not knock on my door and say...

    1. Could you just sign here for me?
    2. Could you take a look at this?
    3. What is that spike on this strip of paper called ECG?

    and would be great if I do not have to take responsibility for their actions.

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  • Sue him

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  • Anonymous | Other healthcare professional | 19 June 2015 5:44pm

    where is the evidence ?
    how are they utilized ?
    what work can they do ?
    how will it reduce workload?
    how cost-effective are they?
    who will train / supervise ?
    what about indemnity ?

    so many questions - few answers but let's do it for a laugh ?

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  • Don't waste your time arguing

    They never listen

    They carry on regardless

    Protect yourself, protect your future and career, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN.

    The older boys are retiring. That should tell you all where you stand......

    make a choice and think for yourselves and don't expect anyone there to look after you.

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  • The End

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  • Now that General Practice is almost dead, does anyone know whether it is for Burial or Cremation.

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  • We all know how it will work.
    Much like the " Nurse consultant" model at the hospital.
    Physician Associates will work there way up to eg
    Physician associate sore throat Consultant or Physician Associate depression Consultant and so forth.

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  • Can all partners in a practice resign and then locum there instead?

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  • Physician associates seem to be performing similar duties to our current senior nurses / nurse practitioners.
    Our nurses already run all the long term condition clinics, and do a lot of minor illness consulting (UTIs. sore throats, wounds, and pre-assessing the more complex cases by doing the ECGs, obs etc).
    What we, the GPs, are struggling with is the complex patients (who are now all in 10 min appointments, with no catch up time from the odd sore throat or pill check any more), and the paperwork - not just direct patient care paperwork such as letters and results, but the myriad of admin related to these stupid ideas being implemented.
    So how is a physician assistant different from a nurse - or is this just renaming the same person?

    And where do we put them?
    We are trying to extend our surgery, but currently hot desking - have had to turn down another registrar even though we have the trainer and would love to have them, because we have no room for them to work from. Want another nurse too, but again no room to put them in.

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  • "Anonymous | Salaried GP | 20 June 2015 6:59am

    Now that General Practice is almost dead, does anyone know whether it is for Burial or Cremation."

    It would seem that while it was expected that J Hunt esq has filled and signed Part 1, it's such a shame to see the 'leaders' (cough, cough) of our esteemed medical establishments (RCGP + GPC anyone) are stepping over themselves to be the Part 2 doctor.
    As Daddy Royale would say "CBE my arse!!"

    Disillusioned GP Partner (2yrs & counting down)

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  • I just don't understand.
    This was an opportunity to save general practice.
    I was expecting something that would be jaw dropping.
    This is the same old guff.

    They must know this will have the same effect as firing a water pistol at an erupting volcano.
    So what is the benefit for JH to put general practice in the grave?
    I don't know why they want to do this. Who benefits?
    I thought the announcement would have the effect of GPs retracting their retirement, resignation, Australian application forms.
    Anyone who feels this will be the effect of this announcement has to be idiotic or enjoying the privileges of close contact with the D of H.
    I'm really sad this has simply confirmed that picking this speciality has been the equivalent of choosing to be a dodo.

    RCGP please do not waste any of my fees on a recruitment drive with this as the basis. No student worth consideration would not consider this as a career.
    My money would be much better spent on lobbying politicians.
    If any of my money is wasted on this, and a waste it will be, I will not be staying a member. You can keep the letters to put after my name. They already generate a sympathetic tilt of the head when seen by hospital colleagues with a generous "orrrrh" that you might give to a child who has dressed up and put lipstick on for the first time.

    This has been a really sad turn of events.

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  • How about GP registrars thrown out of GP training because of silly CSA actor exam which nobody follows in real life😠

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  • Are they not better then NPs,GP trainees who completed 3years of training ,passed AKT but Could not clear CSA ,why they can't be assessed by other means and work as GP ....just a thought

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  • MOVE TO AUSTRALIA IF YOU CAN!! The places are drying up fast........best move you will ever make

    Ex uk early 30s partner!!!!!!

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  • All our GP leaders who were saying we can only work 6 sessions a week should consider the new deal (which advocates working 7 days a week) to be a slap on their face.

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