The director of primary care at NHS England, Dr Arvind Madan, has said that the ‘jury’s still out’ on whether the GP Forward View is working.
But speaking 18 months after the launch of the plan for general practice, Dr Madan said general practice is ‘starting to see evidence’ of progress on the initiatives laid out in the document.
The plans were announced in April 2016, and included commitments to increase the funding going into general practice by £2.4bn a year by 2020, increase the GP and non-GP workforce and schemes designed to reduce GPs’ workload.
However, the BMA and the RCGP have both said that not enough has been done so far, with RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard saying GPs feel ‘let down’ by the package, and the GPC saying that implementation has been ‘patchy’.
Dr Madan told delegates at the meeting that there was still some uncertainty around the success of the package.
Outlining the progress on the 82 initiatives laid out in the document, Dr Madan said: ‘I think for some the jury’s still out on whether the General Practice Forward View is working.
‘Eighteen months through the programme, I’d say we’re in our teenage years and this is where we find out what the character of the programme will ultimately be.’
‘But what I would say is that we’re starting to see evidence that those who are early adopters are starting to show progress.’
Dr Madan said that ‘early indications’ suggest that the numbers of GPs in training has increased by 5% on last year.
This is despite national data showing a decrease in the number of graduates entering GP training from 2,691 as of July 2016 to 2,658 in July this year.
Health Education England increased the number of GP training places was increased in 2015 to 3,250 places per year, but has yet to hit the target.
But Dr Madan said that despite missing the target, ‘we’ve got the highest numbers of GPs in training than ever before’.
In his speech at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, Dr Madan added that NHS England is ‘probably just over halfway through’ adding over 5,000 primary care staff, other than GPs, to the workforce.
The GP Forward View committed to adding 3,000 mental health therapists, 1,500 clinical pharmacists and 1,000 physician associates to the workforce by 2020.