Urgent GP action is long overdue, but we should remember history of missing targets

Helen Buckingham responds to the Conservatives’ announcement of investment in general practice.

Press release

Published: 09/11/2019

Commenting on Saturday's general practice announcement from the Conservative Party, Nuffield Trust Director of Strategy Helen Buckingham said:


“We’re encouraged to see that the Conservatives have taken on some of the recommendations we, The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation made to solve the crisis currently facing general practice [1]. An urgent program to get more GPs starting work and convince them to stay there is long overdue, and it is good to see that there appears to be significant funding behind it. 

“It’s positive that the Conservatives are proposing to look to well-qualified physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists, who are needed to help support GP practices and often provide the most appropriate care for patients in the long run. We will need to be careful not to cause problems by pulling these staff from other equally important areas of the NHS, and patients might take time to get used to them.

“Commitments on trainees should be taken with caution though. We should remember the NHS has a long tradition of missing targets to train more staff. For every four GPs trained, only three make it through to front line, and on average they work only two thirds of full time.

“It is vital that this commitment for more appointments does not become a target, and as result a stick to beat general practice with. GPs must be given the time to care, without being forced to race through patients as quickly as possible."

Notes

  1. Closing the Gap was published in March 2019 by the Nuffield Trust, King's Fund and Health Foundation, and presents an array of solutions to the NHS workforce crisis.
  2. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate. 
  3. We have produced a pack of key facts and figures for issues in health and social care during the 2019 General Election. You can read this on our website here.
  4. For any queries or to arrange an interview, please contact Kirsty Ridyard on 07780 475571kirsty.ridyard@nuffieldtrust.org.uk.

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