Patients will be given a new right to demand face-to-face appointments under government plans to name and shame GP surgeries that fail to provide appropriate “access”.
The NHS is investing millions into a new package of measures aimed at improving patient access to GPs, after the pandemic saw the number of in-person appointments drop significantly.
We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below
Surgeries that fail to offer an “appropriate” level of face-to-face appointments will not be eligible for the funding and will be named in new league tables, with patients able to rate the performance of their GP practice via text message.
NHS England said the measures, which include a £250 million winter access fund, will enable practices to improve availability and increase in-person appointments and same-day care.
However, the plans have come under fire from industry professionals who have said there are not enough GPs to plug the gaps.
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has now called on the government to fulfil its manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs and 26,000 primary care professionals in the workforce by 2024.
But how much do GPs earn? Here’s what you need to know about annual pay for doctors in training, specialty doctors, consultants and GPs, and what the plans will mean for practices.
How much do GPs earn?
A doctor in foundation training will earn a basic salary of £28,808 to £33,345 from 1 April 2021, according to the NHS.
Doctors starting specialist training this year will earn slightly more, with a basic salary between £39,467 to £53,077.
Those who are working as a specialty doctor earn between £45,124 to £77,519, while consultants earn a basic salary of between £84,559 to £114,003 per year, depending on the length of service.
As for GPs, there are two contractual options. Those who are independent contractors in charge of running their own practices as business, either alone or in partnerships, or salaried GPs.
Salaried GPs are employees of independent contractor practices, or are directly employed by primary care organisations.
Workers in this field will earn between £62,268 and £93,965 from 1 April 2021.
How will access to GPs be improved?
The blueprint for improving access to GPs, published by NHS England working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, includes the following measures:
- The new investment will fund locums as well as support for GPs from other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and podiatrists.
- The NHS said GP practices must “respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”.
- Local health systems will be given some freedom to determine how to tackle access problems, which could include “walk-in consultations”.
- GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring, meaning people will be able to see how well their surgery performs compared to others.
- Practices which do not provide “appropriate levels” of face-to-face care will not be able to access the additional funding and will instead be offered support.
- The money will help upgrade GP surgery telephone systems, with the aim of driving down long waiting times on the phone.
- The government will reform who can provide medical evidence and certificates, such as fit notes and DVLA checks, freeing up more time for appointments.
- Infection control will be assessed which is likely to lead to social distancing in practices being changed or downgraded.
- Patients will be able to see different types of clinicians in general practice, including nurses, pharmacists and paramedics.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am determined to ensure patients can see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live.
“I also want to thank GPs and their teams for their enormous efforts in the most challenging times in living memory.
“Our new plan provides general practice teams with investment and targeted support.
“This will tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments.
“Alongside this we are setting out more measures to tackle abuse and harassment so staff at GP surgeries who work so tirelessly to care for patients can do so without having to fear for their safety.”
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.