Teach GPs economics to understand cost implications of decisions, says report

GPs should be training in health economics to help them understand the cost implications of their decisions, according to a report from the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC).

Dr Nav Chana: NAPC report highlights GP training needs (Photo: NTI)
Dr Nav Chana: NAPC report highlights GP training needs (Photo: NTI)

The report, published with NAPC’s parent body NHS Confederation, recommends training should also include population health, health coaching, management and interprofessional learning.

The authors argue for a more ‘sophisticated’ approach to recruitment and retention to avert a crisis in primary care, and warn that simply increasing GP numbers is not enough.

The call comes after both the Labour and Conservative parties pledged to recuit thousands of new GPs - Labour has pledged to create 8,000 new GPs, while the Conservatives plan to 'train and retain' 5,000. The DH has set Health Education England a target of 50% of medical students becoming GPs by 2015.

NAPC chairman Dr Nav Chana said: ‘Promoting the development of the multidisciplinary team to ensure patients receive seamless care appropriate to their needs was at the heart of this report.

Flexible workforce development

‘The NAPC has cited developing a workforce that is responsive to the needs of a population and not fixating on any particular professional group as one of the key points in the Association's seven-point plan.’

Workforce needs should be determined locally according to population health requirements, informed by the joint strategic needs assessment drawn up by local authorities and NHS organisations, the report said.

GPs and the wider primary care team should be trained to know how to take a population health approach, with training in risk stratification, health coaching, self care and self management, it added.

GP training should include health economics ‘to promote the alignment of financial and clinical knowledge’ and enable GPs to ‘understand and appreciate the quality and cost basis for their decisions’.

To ensure primary care training does not ‘take place in a vacuum’, there should be more opportunities for interprofessional learning alongside social care, community and voluntary sector workforces, the report argued.

There should be a focus on developing alternative medical roles such as physicians’ assistants to support integrated working, increase capacity and free up GP time to treat patients with the most complex conditions, it said.

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