GP surgeries will be provided with emergency funding to provide more face-to-face appointments as part of a drive to tackle abuse against staff.
The measures will including a £250m winter access fund from NHS England which will fund locums and support from other health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists, with a focus on increasing capacity to boost urgent same-day care.
The NHS will also support upgrades to telephone systems, ensuring that more patients can quickly and easily speak to general practice staff, and help the public avoid long waits when contacting a surgery by phone.
The government will also reduce administrative burdens on GPs by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificates such as FIT notes and DVLA checks, freeing up time for more appointments.
Together with the government and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the NHS will also develop a zero-tolerance campaign on abuse of NHS staff, including GP teams.
Health minister Maria Caulfield said the extra investment will help to increase the number of appointments delivered, while local health systems will be free to determine how best to tackle particular challenges to access and provision of care in their own community, which could include putting in place additional resource for walk-in consultations.
‘As a nurse on the frontline during the pandemic, I know how hard GPs and their teams have worked, while recognising how badly so many people want to see their GPs in person.
‘This plan will give our dedicated general practices the support needed to increase capacity, boosting the number of appointments for patients to see and speak to their GP practice
‘I look forward to continuing to work with the sector to ensure patients can get the care they need.’
Health bosses said practices that do not provide appropriate levels of face to face care not able to access the additional funding, and instead offered support to improve.
As part of this package, the NHS will increase its oversight of practices with the most acute issues in relation to access, and GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring next year. This will enhance transparency and accountability, as monthly data is currently only published by clinical commissioning group.
In addition, patients will get the opportunity to rate their practice’s performance, via text message, based on their most recent experience of accessing support. This survey, which has been previously agreed with the profession, is being piloted in around 60 practices and will be rolled out next year.
Patients will also be able to see different types of clinicians in general practice, who can best meet their needs and conditions, including pharmacists, paramedics, advanced nurse practitioners and nursing associates.
NHS England will also work with the government to consider how far and fast the role of pharmacists can be increased in the supply of medication, as part of relieving workload on GPs.
Photo Credit – National Cancer Institute