The Government has unveiled its long-awaited recovery plan for general practice. Sofia Lind outlines the main points that will affect GPs
- Provide all practices with the digital tools and care navigation training for ‘Modern General Practice Access’ and fund transition cover for those that commit to adopt this approach before March 2025. (According to NHS England, ‘effective care navigation could direct over 15% of patients to teams that could better help them: administrative teams, self-care, community pharmacy or another local service’).
- Deliver training and transformation support to all practices from May 2023 through a new ‘National General Practice Improvement Programme’.
- Support all practices on analogue lines to move to digital telephony, including call back functionality, if they sign up by July 2023.
- Enable patients in over 90% of practices to see their records and practice messages, book appointments and order repeat prescriptions using the NHS App by March 2024.
Redirecting patients to pharmacy
- Launch Pharmacy First so that by end of 2023 community pharmacies can supply prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions.
Ensure integrated care boards (ICBs) expand self-referral pathways by September 2023, as set out in the 2023/24 Operational Planning Guidance published in December.
ICBs have been asked to put in place:
- direct referral pathways from community optometrists to ophthalmology services for all urgent and elective eye consultations
- self-referral routes to falls response services, musculoskeletal services, audiology-including hearing aid provision, weight management services, community podiatry, and wheelchair and community equipment services.
- Further expand GP specialty training (with details to be set out in the still-to-be-published NHS workforce plan) – and make it easier for newly trained GPs who require a visa to remain in England.
- Encourage experienced GPs to stay in practice through the pension reforms announced in the Budget and create simpler routes back to practice for the recently retired.
- Reduce time spent liaising with hospitals – by requiring ICBs to report progress on improving the interface with primary care, in line with recommendations from the Academy of Royal Colleges.
- Reduce requests to GPs to verify medical evidence, including by increasing self-certification, by continuing to advance the Bureaucracy Busting Concordat.
Source: NHS England