Efforts to boost general practice workforce will be ‘imperative’ in forthcoming strategy, says RCGP

Responding to ‘A Critical Moment’, published by The Health Foundation this month, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “This report further highlights the dire straits that the general practice workforce is currently in – and hammers home just how much we need to see every effort taken to increase the numbers of family doctors working in the NHS.

“It is really positive to see that strides are being made to increase the numbers of other members of the practice team, some more than others, and it remains concerning to see a continued decline in practice nurse numbers. Nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and so on play an integral role in supporting GPs to make more than a million patient consultations a day across the country, and most practices would not be able to function without the hard work and dedication of our wider team.

“What’s important is that patients are clear about the role of each member of the practice team – including what care and services each can and can’t deliver – and that there is no doubt that allied healthcare professionals will support GPs, not replace them. It takes at least ten years to train a GP and the level of skill it takes to deliver truly holistic care to patients, and manage immense amounts of risk, cannot be substituted.

“We want to see efforts to continue to increase numbers of all members of the practice team. But we also need to see efforts re-doubled to recruit and retain more GPs, who will lead these teams.

“The NHS long-term plan has some truly commendable aspirations that will benefit patients, and it also recognises the importance of a robust general practice service in keeping the NHS sustainable, but we need the workforce to be able to deliver it. It is imperative that the forthcoming NHS workforce strategy includes comprehensive plans to boost GP recruitment – and great work is already ongoing – but also to keep existing GPs in the profession longer, so that we can deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

The Critical Moment paper can be viewed here >