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Hunt set to reveal plans on easing of general practice pressures next month

Plans include bolstering workforce numbers and incentives to keep doctors in profession

Caroline White

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged next month to flesh out the detail of how he intends to address growing pressures on general practice and provide additional support for the profession.

In one of his first major speeches in the new parliament, he set out his commitment to general practice, which he views as one of the great strengths of the NHS and central to the government’s vision for the future of healthcare.

He will announce further steps to increase the GP workforce by an extra 5,000 by 2020. These include encouraging more medical students to opt for a career in general practice, additional help for GP returners, and specialist training opportunities to attract doctors from other specialties, as well as incentives to help keep GPs in the profession and address areas with specific workforce shortages.

Future plans include a renewed drive to cut red tape throughout general practice, including stopping re-referrals from hospitals back to GPs, streamlining payment systems so that practices don’t have to waste time chasing monies owed by different organisations, and helping surgeries become paperless.

Mr Hunt said: “General practice is the jewel in the crown of the NHS and central to the future of the health service in the Five Year Forward View. I am determined that we will address growing pressures on GPs and do even more to support the profession – so in February, we’ll be announcing a new package of measures consulting with the Royal College of GPs and the GPC on this.

“We’ll continue to reduce the burden of bureaucracy in general practice, and the Care Quality Commission will be looking at what more they can do to streamline their inspections. On top of this, I want to increase the proportion of funding going into general practice, so with NHS England we are now promising to invest 4-5 per cent more per year in general practice for the rest of this parliament on top of the extra funding CCGs will put into primary care.”

Picture: Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health Crown Copyright/ Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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