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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)

  • 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 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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