Government on track to deliver 26,000 more primary care staff

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"It’s fantastic 18,000 healthcare workers have joined general practice teams in just three years" - Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

The government is well over half way to delivering on its manifesto commitment of having 26,000 more primary care staff by March 2024, according to data published today.

There are now over 18,200 more people working in general practice in March 2022 compared to March 2019, and nearly 30,000 overall.

This includes clinical pharmacists, mental health practitioners, nursing and physician associates, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists and social prescribing link workers, who refer patients to community services to support their wellbeing.

The additional staff form part of multi-disciplinary teams within primary care, working alongside GPs to care for patients with complex needs, reducing pressure on GPs and increasing capacity. Sometimes a patient may see a different clinician – a pharmacist, nurse or occupational therapist  – instead of a GP as they may be the best person to meet a patient’s needs and conditions. Clinical pharmacists, for example, are fully qualified to deal with a range of minor illnesses, providing advice and treatment.

The government continues to support general practice and injected £520 million to improve access and expand GP capacity during the pandemic, on top of the previously announced £1.5 billion to fund general practice recruitment and retention schemes.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

I am hugely grateful for the tireless work of GPs and primary care staff who act as the ‘front door’ to the NHS and provide advice and support to their patients. We have been working closely with the NHS to continue building the workforce and tackle the Covid backlog.

With over 18,200 more primary care staff already, we are on track to deliver 26,000 more by 2024, backed by record funding to help increase capacity and get patients the care they need more quickly.

Dr Nikki Kanani, national medical director for Primary Care said:

General Practice is a brilliant place to work, at the very the heart of the NHS with the chance to make a difference every day in local communities helping people and their families stay in good health, and being there for people during difficult moments.

General Practice staff have worked flat-out over the pandemic and it’s fantastic 18,000 healthcare workers have joined general practice teams in just three years. With brilliant career prospects, there is no better time than now to apply – search ‘NHS careers’ to find the role for you.

The government say it is working to ensure it has the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands, with plans to run a national recruitment campaign in the coming year.

There were over 1,400 more doctors working in general practice in March 2022 compared to the same time in 2019 and a record-breaking number started training as GPs last year, data from NHS Digital shows.

The government and NHS say they are working to tackle the Covid backlog while reforming routine care services, ending long waits and improving patient care.

The pandemic has put huge pressure on health and care services and over the next three years a record £39 billion will be invested through the Health and Care Levy, so the NHS has the funding it needs.

The NHS is opening new surgical hubs and up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) to deliver more operations and give patients easier access to tests closer to home – with 88 CDCs already open, delivering over 800,000 scans.

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