Today, Friday 20th October, Johnny Mercer MP welcomed the announcement of new measures to be put into place following months of lobbying work from Conservative MPs.
Placing GPs and family medicine at the very heart of the NHS, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has moved forward plans that are targeted at keeping GPs in their profession.
Planned measures include a new state-backed indemnity scheme which will provide a more stable and more affordable system for GPs. Delivering on the Conservative manifesto pledge, it will provide financially sustainable cover for clinical negligence risks arising from the delivery of all NHS general practice services, by all staff. The scheme will need careful negotiation and I will be taking forward the discussions about the detail of the scheme with GP leaders ahead of a planned introduction in April 2019.
Other measures include a Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme. This Government is offering a one-off salary supplement of £20,000 to GP trainees who start their career in under-doctored areas. This began in 2016, meaning areas with a vacant GP trainee position were filled for the first time in at least three years. Up to 200 additional places will be offered in 2018. This programme could have particularly beneficial effects in areas such as Plymouth where there are areas of deprivation that typically do not attract the same levels of recruitment as more affluent areas.
Other measures range from a recruitment drive to deliver 5,000 more doctors and 2,000 GPS internationally, an introduction of Physician Associates to free up doctors’ workloads to focus on the most complex patients and practical support in the form of £40m to support vulnerable and struggling practices.
Following the announcement, Member of Parliament for Plymouth Moor View and Health Select Committee member, Johnny Mercer, said:
“Last week in front of the Health Committee we had the Chief Executive of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens. The majority of my questioning focused on some of the recent experiences I’ve had talking with GPs in Plymouth, looking at situations from the Beacon Medical Group to Ocean Health and I wanted to know what the NHS was doing to support primary care in areas like Plymouth.
“I think the bits that will attract lots of attention are the investments and recruitment drive, but one of the big issues of which I’ve heard repeatedly is about getting support with indemnity costs. I’m delighted that the government is listening and responding to the concerns of GPs, especially those from Plymouth, and tackling the tough issues head on to provide real and practical support.”
Notes to editors
Further details on the new measures are as follows:
- A new state-backed indemnity scheme – This will provide a more stable and more affordable system for GPs. Delivering on the Conservative manifesto pledge, this will provide financially sustainable cover for clinical negligence risks arising from the delivery of all NHS general practice services, by all staff. The scheme will need careful negotiation and the Health Secretary will be taking forward the discussions about the detail of the scheme with GP leaders ahead of a planned introduction in April 2019.
- Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme – This government are offering a one-off salary supplement of £20,000 to GP trainees who start their career in under-doctored areas. This began in 2016, meaning areas with a vacant GP trainee position were filled for the first time in at least three years. Up to 200 additional places will be offered in 2018.
- Physician Associates – The Health Secretary announced a consultation on the statutory regulation of our 1,000 additional Physician Associates, who will play a vital role in complementing the medical workforce, releasing time for doctors to focus on the most complex patients and easing workloads in GP practices. To encourage public and professional confidence in the profession, we are ensuring the right regulatory structure is in place to underpin their work.
- More funding – Because successive governments had underinvested in primary care, in each of my five years as health Secretary GPs have got an increasing share of the NHS budget. The GP Forward View, published in April 2016, set out an extra £2.4 billion annually for general practice to increase funding to over £12 billion a year by 2020/21 (a 14% increase in real terms). Last year the first £507 million of this growth was delivered, further increasing general practice’s share.
- Practical support – This new money is now paying for practical solutions, including around 500 clinical pharmacists working across more than 650 practices, £30m protecting GPs against rising indemnity costs, and £40 million to support vulnerable and struggling practices. Meanwhile the sector continues to reform itself through new federations and networks, working at scale, including to deliver evening and weekend appointments now for 18 million people.
- Increasing recruitment – Money alone is not sufficient. At the root of the problem is constrained capacity – we need more GPs and other primary care workers. We will deliver 5,000 more doctors working in general practice and already announced plans to recruit 2,000 GPs internationally. Domestically we have record numbers of medical graduates choosing general practice and are increasing the supply of medical students by a record 25% – 1,500 more medical school places every year, focussed on producing family doctors.