Greater collaboration between primary care and other NHS services

An increase in GP numbers alone is not enough to solve the workforce pressures in primary care, according to the NHS Confederation and National Association of Primary Care. The bodies have therefore called for an alternative approach to workforce planning, in a joint response to a commission by national training body Health Education England on workforce and models of primary care. The commission, chaired by Professor Martin Roland, professor of health services research at the University of Cambridge, has been tasked with identifying and highlighting innovative models of primary care that will meet the future needs of patients and the NHS.

Arguing that a whole-system approach is imperative to the development of a future workforce model, the submission calls for more integrated working between primary care and other services and highlights the need to overcome barriers currently inhibiting the implementation of new models.

The joint response states “medium-to long-term planning for the primary care workforce requires a patient-centred and population-based approach if it is to be effective” and that such an approach “must be underpinned by enhanced skills-mix, new capabilities, and regulatory and training curriculum change, supported by financial modelling.”

The joint response sets out innovative ways of working which take a population health management approach and to better meet the needs of patients. This includes on-the-spot screening on the high street, improving data for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease care and a new outreach role for receptionists.

Dr Nav Chana, Chair of the National Association of Primary Care, said:

“Building on our joint paper with NHS Confederation ‘Not more of the same’ our evidence submission argues that an increase in GP numbers alone is not enough to solve the workforce pressures in primary care and that primary care workforce planning and the modelling assumptions underpinning must incorporate the skill mix needed to support new, emerging and more sustainable models of care.”

“By using current workforce modelling assumptions focused on the model of care we currently have and around individual workforce groups could lead to an unsustainable system.

“Building on the National Association of Primary Care’s (NAPC) 7 Point Plan and alongside the NHS Confederation, we have gone on to set out the important principles that both our organisations believe should underpin workforce development for primary care. A more sophisticated model of workforce planning is needed to better support and meet the needs of all our members across the NHS and encourage more integrated working between primary care and other services. We also  highlight the barriers that our members tell us, currently inhibit them from implementing new models of care, setting out the changes in primary care workforce planning and training that we think will better enable these to be overcome.

“Our members working in primary care and across the rest of the NHS agree that it is vital that primary care is empowered to deliver patient-centred population health care. They also support and encourage increasingly collaborative models, in the form of primary care networks, enhancing the skill mix of the workforce we already have to maximise the value of primary care for our communities.”

To read the submission on Health Education England’s Commission on Primary Care Workforce please click here.

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