The government plans to introduce financial incentives to attract GPs into under-doctored areas in a major shake-up of general practice.

  • Government plans incentives to bolster provision in under-doctored areas
  • Jeremy Hunt asks primary care to “deliver their side of the bargain” on seven day services
  • Health secretary announces 10,000 increase in primary care workforce
  • Work into possible GP “scorecard” due in autumn

In a speech in London this morning, the health secretary launched the government’s “new deal” for general practice. It calls for GPs to “deliver their side of the bargain” and support the move towards providing seven day appointments routinely across the country.

A central commitment in the Conservative manifesto was to “aspire to seven day access to NHS hospital and GP services by 2020”.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt said he will need will need the primary care sector’s cooperation and support

Speaking at the Nelson Medical Practice, Jeremy Hunt said he is “keeping [his] pledge to announce a new deal for general practice”.

“Now deals have two parties, so I want to be upfront: this is not about change I can deliver on my own.

“If we are to have a new deal I will need your cooperation and support – both in improving the quality and continuity of care for vulnerable patients and delivering better access, seven days a week, for everyone.”

He stressed the deal was “about a flexible and balanced approach – not that every single surgery will be open in the evenings or at weekends”.

Mr Hunt announced that the government will incentive newly qualified GPs to go to “go to parts of the country where they are most needed”.

“We will incentivise a number of newly qualified GPs with an extra year of training and support to develop specific skills needed in areas such as paediatrics, mental health and emergency medicine,” he said, which will build on a Health Education England pilot in the West Midlands.

NHS England today began publishing data about clinical staffing levels in every GP practiceenable a greater focus on recruitment to the most “under-doctored” areas.

He also announced a net increase in the primary care workforce of 10,000 staff, half of which will be GPs.

Following a pilot, 1,000 physicians’ associates, working under the direct supervision of a doctor to help diagnose and manage patients, will be “available to work in general practice by September 2020”, he said.

The remaining 4,000 staff will include physician associates, practice nurses, district nurses and pharmacists. There is not yet any detail on how these positions will be funded.

There also will be “new flexibilities” for GPs nearing retirement who want to work part-time and those returning to the profession.

The Health Foundation will lead a review into quality indicators in general practice, which is expected to be completed in September.

The government may use the results of the review to create a “scorecard” of indicators for every GP practice, which would be published on the MyNHS website.

Health Foundation chief executive Jennifer Dixon said she was pleased the organisation had been “asked to carry out a stocktake of existing metrics to assess the quality of primary care provided to the population”.

“Good data on quality is the cornerstone to making improvements in care for patients and I look forward to building on existing progress already made in developing metrics and working with key stakeholders to assess how these might be made better in future,” she said.