New models of general practice needed, NHS England warns

Innovative GPs are federating, merging and using APMS contract flexibilities to improve services, but the profession must be supported to explore other new models of general practice, NHS England has said.

Dr Mike Bewick: new models of primary care (photo: Jason Lancy)

Ahead of the publication of NHS England's long-awaited primary care strategy, its deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick said many GPs were developing new ways of working, but a wider range of models should be explored.

NHS England is due to publish the outcome of its general practice consultation - Improving General Practice – a Call to Action, early next year.

Early details of its plans for London suggest it will force practices to federate to expand services.

But Dr Bewick said: ‘NHS England has made clear it doesn’t want to tell GPs what to do, rather it wants to give them the support and tools to help secure the future of primary care.

‘I am absolutely clear that primary care will not meet the challenges of limited resources, a changing workforce and rising patient expectation unless GPs and commissioners are given the support and legitimacy to change and innovate.’

GPs' high workload means there is little time to think about innovation, Dr Bewick said.

‘As a GP I understand the need for some headroom to think about change. How do we prioritise the hundreds of things on our "to do" list and focus on the top three that will really improve patients’ experience? The day job sometimes just doesn’t give us time to think about innovation.

‘I’ve been very impressed with how innovative GPs are already tackling the many challenges that come with Improving General Practice – a Call to Action. Thanks to feedback, we are now developing an even greater understanding of the challenges facing primary care and how we must work differently to achieve sustainable change.’

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