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Doctors in brief…

Posted by Lotty Reeves on 22nd April 2015

Funding announced to recruit and retain GPs

A new plan announced by NHS England will receive £10 million of funding to recruit and retain GPs.

Under the ‘10 point plan’, a marketing campaign will be launched to encourage more medical graduates to become GPs. Trainee GPs will be incentivised with the offer of additional training on a related speciality of their choice, and pilot GP training hubs will be established. Experienced GPs will be encouraged to delay retirement, or return from a career break, with opportunities such as working part time, developing a portfolio career or receiving extra payment for mentoring new GPs. Financial support will also be offered to GPs to work in areas where there is a GP shortage. The funding to carry out the plans will be taken from the £1 billion Primary Care Infrastructure Fund.

Increasing pressures faced by clinical commissioning groups

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are facing increased risks to their survival due to budget cuts and drops in GP engagement, according to a report published by the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund. The report reveals that the percentage of GPs who said they were ‘highly engaged’ in their CCG work dropped from 19% in 2013 to 12% in 2014. Engagement was found to be higher among GPs with leadership roles than among GP members. Interviews conducted with GPs during 2013 and 2014 indicated that the biggest barrier to GPs’ engagement with clinical commissioning was a lack of time and capacity to carry out primary care duties.

Fall in patient satisfaction with GP services

Patient satisfaction with GP services has dropped to its lowest level since 2001, according to the NatCen British Social Attitudes Survey 2014. The survey indicates that 71% of patients were satisfied with GP services in 2014, down from 74% in 2013. Despite this, GPs had the highest satisfaction rates of all NHS services in 2014. Outpatient hospital services reached their highest satisfaction level since the survey began in 1983, at 69%. Satisfaction with A&E services reached 58%, up from 52% in 2013. Satisfaction with the NHS as a whole reached 65%, up from 60% in 2013, which is the second highest rating ever recorded. According to the King’s Fund, the increase in satisfaction with the NHS as a whole may reflect general support for the institution, as satisfaction increased even among individuals who had not recently used NHS services.

New role for GPs under DWP Fit for Work scheme

The role of GPs in relation to long term sickness absence will change over the next few months, as the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) new Fit for Work scheme is rolled out across the UK. Where a patient has been or is expected to be absent from work for at least four weeks, their GP will, subject to their consent, be able to refer them to a Fit for Work occupational health specialist. They will receive a ‘biopsychosocial holistic assessment’ over the phone or online within two days of the referral or, where ‘deemed appropriate’, be seen in person by an occupational health specialist within five days. Once a ‘return to work’ plan has been agreed, there will be no need for the GP to issue repeat fit notes.

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