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Burnout puts Government’s seven-day access plan at risk



Burnout poses a ‘significant’ risk of derailing the NHS efficiency drive and the move towards seven-day, a think-tank’s briefing to MPs said today.

The Nuffield Trust briefing – released ahead of a parliamentary debate on seven-day services today – says there needs to be a ‘step change’ in the way primary care services are delivered’, and says that ‘extended opening hours in a larger number of GP surgeries is.. a welcome aspiration’.

However, it highlights the ‘looming workforce crunch’ in general practice, caused by a ‘potential shortfall in GP numbers, real financial pressures and a growing primary care workload’, and says there must be change in this area.

The new Government has reiterated its ambition for a seven-day NHS, including primary care services, by 2020, despite widespread opposition from GPs.

The Nuffield Trust said it supported the Government’s aims, but added that ministers must address problems in the workforce first.

It stated: ‘Staff burnout is becoming a significant risk in many settings.

‘Politicians must think carefully about how to reconcile the need to develop and encourage the workforce with the inevitable political desire to maintain “grip” on the NHS when the financial situation continues to deteriorate. ‘

The briefing also said that there is a clear need to embrace change and extended opening hours in a larger number of GP surgeries is a ‘welcome aspiration’.

It said: ‘With general practice facing a looming workforce crunch caused by a potential shortfall in GP numbers, real financial pressures and a growing primary care workload, there is a clear need to embrace change.

‘Scaled-up general practice, better use of existing skills such as pharmacists or practice nurses, and developing innovative working arrangements with other health or social care providers in the area should all be pursued.’

Pulse recently launched its second major national survey of GP burnout. The original survey in 2013 revealed that almost half of GPs were at high risk of burnout.