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GPs need ‘urgent support’ ahead of winter, says RCGP

GPs need ‘urgent support’ ahead of winter, says RCGP

General practice needs urgent support ahead of winter, including an immediate reduction of bureaucracy, the RCGP has said.

Commenting on NHS England’s winter support announcement, made at the end of last week, the college pointed out that winter pressure ‘will not be confined to hospitals’.

The plan included boosting hospital capacity with extra beds and increasing the number of call handlers working for NHS 111.

It also announced the ‘rapid recruitment’ of up to 2,000 additional social prescribing link workers, health coaches and care coordinators among measures to alleviate GP pressures.

But RCGP vice chair Dr Gary Howsam said: ‘The entire NHS is facing an incredibly difficult winter ahead. We certainly support measures to ease pressures facing colleagues in hospitals and improve patient access to these services during this time, but we also need to see more being done to help general practice get through what is likely to be a very tough period.’

GPs and their teams are ‘already working under intense workload and workforce pressures’, Dr Howsam said, amid rising demand and a declining workforce.

‘Winter pressures will not be confined to hospitals, and we need measures to be taken to ensure patients can continue to receive the care and services they need from general practice, whilst keeping staff safe, throughout.’

Commenting on plans to recruit more support workers in general practice, Dr Howsam pointed out that ‘increasing numbers of new roles is not a short-term solution to pressures’ as ‘they need time and support to embed properly in the service’.

He added: ‘We need to see urgent support for general practice ahead of winter. This needs to include immediate action to stop unnecessary bureaucracy, so that GPs can focus on delivering patient care.

‘We also want to see investment to support rapid implementation of retention schemes available to those at high risk of leaving the workforce alongside the expansion of coaching and mentoring services available to all individuals working in general practice.’

In the longer term, the RCGP wants to ‘see a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 GPs pledged by government in their election manifesto, plus investment in our IT systems and steps to cut bureaucracy’.

The BMA has also condemned the winter measures for not providing sufficient support for general practice.

Council chair Professor Philip Banfield said last week: ‘It is encouraging that this plan promises to recruit more call centre staff and, in general practice, social prescribing link workers and health and wellbeing coaches, but that is just not enough.

‘We need more GPs and funding of staff to support them as primary care bears the brunt of hospital backlogs and patients that can’t access the care they need.’

NHS England has also set out a target to achieve ‘quick wins’ to improve access to GP practices before the end of the financial year, although it did not go into detail about what this would entail.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Glasspool 15 August, 2022 5:57 pm

Barking at the moon.