GP rescue package could be two months away, admits NHS England chief

A promised package of support measures for general practice could be another two months away, NHS England's chief executive has said.

GP leaders are in discussions with DH and NHS England officals over a plan to help ease pressures on the service.

GPonline exclusively revealed plans for the package in January. Officials originally hoped to make an announcement by the end of last month. The announcement was subsequently pushed back to February.

But Simon Stevens told a meeting of NHS England's board this afternoon that he hoped the package would be agreed with the support of 'key partners' within six to eight weeks. 'I would certainly like this published in so-called spring,' he added.

Mr Stevens said last week after the new 2016/17 GP contract details were announced that 'far wider package' was being developed to help practices with workload, workforce and care redesign.

GP funding

'That will require radical new options, including further support for GP recruitment and return to practice, funding for additional primary care staff, new options for practice premises, a reduction in paper-based red tape, alternative approaches to indemnity cover, and redesigned out of hours, 111 and extended hours arrangements, to name just a few - all underpinned by much greater team working across individual practices,' he said. 

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said details of how new investment allocated to the service will be spent. NHS England has announced plans to increase GP funding by 4-5% a year for the next five years.

The package is expected to include details on the roll-out of new care models and the enhanced GP services developed by the prime minister’s Challenge Fund pilots.

Other measures could include bureaucracy reduction plans first announced by Mr Hunt last October, including scrapping GPs' responsibility for hospital re-referrals following missed appointments, and the creation of a unified, single stream GP payments system. 

Plans to streamline CQC inspections are also expected as well as measures to increase the workforce, including incentives to help keep GPs in the profession and to address areas with workforce shortages, will also be revealed.

Photo: Alex Deverill

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