What is in the support package for general practice?
The headline announcement is that funding for general practice willincrease by 14% in real terms, with investment increasing by £2.4bn a year. This is equivalent to 10% of the NHS budget going into primary care according to NHS England.
This will be supplemented with a Sustainability and Transformation package of one-off investments which will add up to over half a billion pounds, which will be used for the other measures in the Forward View.
Mental health support
£16m is going into mental health support to enable GPs to access ‘free, confidential local support and treatment for mental health issues’, to tackle stress and burnout. The scheme is expected to start from December 2016 with procurement starting from June this year.
As well as pushes to recruit more doctors (including recruiting more than 500 overseas GPs and improving the returner and retainer schemes), NHS England plans to invest in 3,000 mental health workers for general practice by 2020 and 1,000 more physician associates. There are also plans to provide £112m for 1,500 pharmacists with the aim that every practice in England will have access to a clinical pharmacist.
There will also be £15m for practice nurse development, £45m over five years for practices to help reception and clerical staff and £6m for practice manager development. There will also be pilots to explore the role of physiotherapists in general practice and a ‘medical assistant’ role.
It rules out crown indemnity but NHS England says it will consult on ways to reduce the burden of indemnity, putting forward proposals by July 2016.
The CQC will be moving to a ‘risk-based’ approach with practices that are ‘good’ our ‘outstanding’ being inspected every five years.
Hospitals will be banned from adopting policies meaning that patients who fail to attend outpatient appointments are automatically discharged and have to be re-referred by their GP as a contractual change from this month. Hospitals will also have to show evidence that they’ve taken into account GP feedback when considering service redesign, send discharge summaries electronically for inpatient, day case or A&E care within 24 hours and supply patients with medication after discharge from inpatient or day case care.
New rules will allow NHS England to fully fund costs for premises developments from September 2016.
The package includes an 18% funding increase for CCGs for general practice IT services and a £45m programme to increase the uptake of online consultations in every practice. The e-referrals system will be upgraded and there will also be funding for free WiFi in practices.