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Primary care

We are working to develop modern multi-disciplinary teams in primary and community care

Primary care

From training GPs, expanding professions such as physician associates and clinical pharmacists to developing new roles including medical assistants, we will help to shape the primary care workforce of the future.

We have been working closely with NHS England, Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association GPs committee to ensure that we have a skilled, trained and motivated workforce in general practice and wider primary care.

In collaboration with these partners, we produced Building the Workforce: A new deal for general practice GP Ten Point Plan which outlined a series of actions to address immediate issues of GP recruitment. We have undertaken initial steps towards this and towards building the workforce for future models of care.

This work is part of the implementation of the Five Year Forward View, which set out a specific commitment to tackle workforce issues, alongside a range of other proposals. These actions are designed to complement some of the local initiatives already underway, which will also be accelerated through the development of co-commissioning of primary care by Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England.

Current strands of work that HEE is leading on include:

The introduction of Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioners (FCP) is a key element of NHS England’s approach to improving patient care and easing the pressure on GP surgeries. MSK conditions account for 20 per cent of a GP's caseload, FCP services place advanced musculoskeletal (MSK) practitioners in primary care teams and at the start of the patient’s pathway, enabling them to assess, diagnose and manage MSK patients. They are able to provide timely care to patients and increase GP capacity overall.

The Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioners Services - Implementation Guide has been developed as a 'how-to' for introducing these new roles in your area, covering capability frameworks, governance issues and practical advice that draws on case studies in areas already offering the service.

View and download the Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioners - Implementation Guide here

The then Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, commissioned us to establish the independent Primary Care Workforce Commission, chaired by Martin Roland CBE, Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge. Through a literature review, call for evidence, site visits and panel meetings, the Commission wanted to identify and highlight innovative models of primary care that will meet the future needs of patients and the NHS.

The report ‘The future of primary care: creating teams for tomorrow’ sets out the Commission’s thinking which includes calling for greater collaboration across organisations and a broader range of staff involved in the delivery of healthcare.

The report and its annexes, along with HEE's formal response, are available for download.

With the Medical Schools Council, we commissioned Professor Val Wass OBE to investigate how general practice is taught in medical schools and make recommendations to ourselves and other key partners. She was supported by a taskforce which included the British Medical Association, junior doctors, the Royal College of General Practitioners and Society for Academic Primary Care. The resulting report ‘By choice – not by chance’, looks at students experiences at  medical school and shines the spotlight on the need to tackle long held views about general practice which is often perceived as a less valued career. It emphasises that change is key to making sure we have the GP workforce required to meet service and patient demands for the future. 

We have been working with partners to encourage more trainee doctors to think about becoming a GP. The campaign 'One career endless opportunities. Choose GP' seeks to inspire and inform young medics about a career in general practice as they make their decision about which specialty training to apply for. 

We have introduced a Targeted GP training scheme, which follows the same standards and outcomes as GP Certificates of Completion of Training (CCT), and is suitable for doctors who may require additional support. In parallel, we proposed an increase in the period of additional training time available for GP trainees to bring it in line with other specialties and to reflect the unique challenges of the GP training programme.

The 2016 General Practice Forward View committed to strengthening the workforce. This included an aim to recruit 1000 physician associates into general practice.

We are implementing a number of initiatives to help increase the number of physician associates choosing to work in general practice including:

- educational support allowance for students

- increase in the number of hours of clinical placement in primary care

- additional preceptorship funding for employers who take on a physician associates and 

- targeted awareness raising - #AssociateYourself campaign

Find out more. 

The general practice nursing workforce must be at the forefront of leading change by delivering better health outcomes in primary care, and by making primary care ‘the place to be’ for ambitious nurses who deliver world class care and support our population to live well. In our mandate, we were asked to help recruit 5,000 additional multi-professional staff in primary care. 

Our General Practice Nursing Workforce Development Plan, Recognise, Rethink, Reform report set out clear recommendations to improve the recruitment, retention and return of the general practice nursing workforce. 

We have produced a short film showcasing a day in the life of a general practice nurse, including the array of activities and procedures their day may include.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need the knowledge, clinical skills and behaviours required to provide more patient-centred care to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. We are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), NHS England and NHS Improvement, as well as other partners and stakeholders to support this transformation.