NHS England has announced the recruitment of 300 more family doctors and thousands more nurses, pharmacists and other staff to “work alongside GPs delivering better care in the community.”
The recruitment drive means that there are now 7,302 more full time equivalent health professionals working in primary care than three years ago, according to new NHS Digital figures.
This number exceeds NHS England’s target of an additional 5,000 by 2020 set out in the General Practice Forward View.
The NHS also announced that in the last year alone, there were 2,635 (2%) more full time staff working in primary care overall than in March 2018 and an increase of 703 (0.5%) over the previous quarter.
However, while the GP numbers are promising, “recruiting, retaining and supporting more doctors into practice remains an absolute priority for us. Today’s figures highlight the good work being done locally to support GPs through retention schemes and flexible working, as well as taking on more trainees”, says Dr Nikki Kanani, interim medical director for primary care and a London GP.
She continued, “A significant increase in the number of other health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists and physicians that work alongside GPs means patients can get more timely and appropriate access to a wider range of highly trained staff. This supports family doctors to focus on patients with the most complex conditions and eases the workload pressures our GPs face.”
Increased investment of £4.5 billion will be going into primary medical and community services each year by 2023-24 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which will support the recruitment of 20,000 more health professionals, including physios, pharmacists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing link workers over the next five years to support GPs.