Exclusive: Pharmacists and physiotherapists 'could reduce GP workload by 20%'

Hiring pharmacists, physician associates and other healthcare staff could ease GP workload by a fifth, RCGP Wales has said.

Up to half of GP work could be done by another healthcare professional.
Up to half of GP work could be done by another healthcare professional.

Employing a ‘broader skill mix’ of primary care staff in GP practices could help lessen the mounting workload of doctors, GP leaders said at a meeting on workforce problems.

‘We recognise that pharmacists, physiotherapists, counsellors, advanced nurse practitioners, are going to take an increasing proportion of general practice work, and we welcome that,’ Dr Paul Myres, chairman of RCGP Wales, told GPOnline.

‘It reduces costs and it makes the most efficient use of your workforce.’

Workload crisis

At a workshop on growing workload and workforce crisis facing GPs, GP leaders, LMC and health board representatives said that up to half of GP work could be done by another healthcare professional.

‘They said an average of 20% of the work that GPs are doing could be done by someone else,’ Dr Myres said.

‘GPs are uniquely good at diagnosing, helping patients create management plans, and adapting clinical guidance to fit patients. That’s what we should be concentrating on,’ he added.

Skill mix

Dr Myres said that recruitment problems had reached crisis point and change was needed to prevent further damage to the profession.

‘The workforce crisis has shown us that things have got to change and we’ve got to work in a different way,’ he said. ‘We have to look at skill mix in general practice’.

The workshop also found that some GPs are working up to 60 hours in clinical sessions alone every week. Unfilled training posts and early retirement have also left Wales with a shortfall of around 500 GPs, Dr Myres said.

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