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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)

  • 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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