Increase in GP numbers alone ‘not enough’ to solve ‘crisis’

GP checking a patient's blood pressure

Any increase in the number of GPs must be accompanied by more sophisticated approaches to recruitment and retention, and a fundamental review of the model of care GPs operate in, if a looming ‘crisis’ in primary care is to be averted.

Failing to do so could lead to ‘more of the same’, with a fundamentally unsustainable service model in the medium to long term, healthcare leaders warn in a new report.

'Not more of the same'

The warning comes as both Labour and Conservative parties have committed to increasing GP numbers in their pre-election manifestos, following calls by the Royal College of General Practice for 10,000 more GPs by 2022 to tackle the spike in demand being felt in general practice. 

But the NHS Confederation and National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) say that primary care workforce planning and modelling assumptions must incorporate new, emerging and more sustainable models of care. 

Not more of the same – a joint report by the organisations – argues that using current modelling assumptions without paying attention to a fundamental change in the model of care delivery across a population will "not add sufficient value, may promote greater health inequity and may lead to a system of care which is fundamentally unsustainable.”

The report, published on 30 October, sets out considerations for developing a primary care workforce that is fit for purpose now and in the future.

New models

The paper warns that the out-of hospital sector, and particularly the primary care workforce, are ill prepared for the new models of care needed to deal with a rise in multi-morbidities and long-term conditions. 

Such new models are expected to better meet the demands of growing numbers of patients by promoting self-management; sharing resources across the whole health and care system, and increasing capacity and capabilities to provide enhanced services; and meeting changing patient expectations. But this paradigm shift will require a new set of skills from the primary care workforce, the report says.

The paper puts forward a package of recommendations for how the workforce can be altered to meet these demands, advocating a focus on achieving population health outcomes, innovating with alternative professional roles, and changing the training given to GPs.

Dr Nav Chana, chair of the National Association of Primary Care, said: "Promoting the development of the multi-disciplinary team to ensure patients receive seamless care appropriate the their needs was at the heart of this report.”

He added: “NAPC is delighted to have been a co-author of this important report.  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."

Whole-system approach

The report – the first joint publication by the Confederation and NAPC – says the development of a future model for workforce requires a whole-system approach. It cites a specific example of a community-based provider education networks (CEPNs) that have been setup to provide integrated training and education models across primary care and other sectors. 
The NAPC joined the NHS Confederation in 2013 as the organisation’s primary care provider network.

Find out more

Download the report Not more of the same:  ensuring we have the right workforce for future models of care.

Find out more about the NAPC

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