NHS needs more – and more specialist – GPs

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Claire Gerada, RCGP  (resized) The NHS needs 10,000 more GPs by 2022 to meet the growing need for primary care, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners.

In addition, the college’s report said, primary care needs more GPs with specialist training in care of elderly people and care integration.

Echoing NHS Confederation leader Mike Farrar, the RCGP said that the vision of a system of integrated and ‘patient-centred’ care could not be realised without major investment in primary care.

Clare Gerada, President of the RCGP, said it was essential to shift funding from secondary care to improve the premises and capacity of GP practices.

“Innovation and reform are vital but must be underpinned by investment,” she warned. “The Government must recognise that general practice is the most cost-effective way of providing care and act accordingly, by urgently reversing the real-terms decline in the amount of money that general practice receives.”

The RCGP report noted that demand for GP services is changing due to long-term trends: more elderly patients, more patients with multiple long-term conditions, and a growing need for better-integrated care.

General practice needs to adapt by providing longer consultations and more health information, sharing decisions with patients, and assisting self-management of chronic illness.

The report proposed a four-year specialty training programme to equip GPs with specialist skills, including management of elderly patients with multiple long-term conditions, and co-ordinating systems of care.

In addition, it said, GP training in mental health and paediatric health needed to improve.

For these changes to be feasible, however, another 10,000 GPs would be needed within a decade, and the tendency for secondary care to monopolise resources had to be “must be halted and reversed.”