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The NHS chief has told hospital trust leaders that they should be as concerned about finding a solution for the GP workforce crisis as primary care organisations such as CCGs or GP consortia.
Speaking at Confed17, Simon Stevens said that what happens in primary care has a ‘profound impact’ on the NHS as a whole and primary care funding and workforce had been overlooked in the past.
Although Stevens said he was ‘proud’ that primary care funding had increased each year since NHS England had been in operation, he added that there remains a series of initiatives around GP retention, training and return to practice which ‘should be of equal concern to leaders of community trusts and acute trusts, as much as CCGs and GP consortia in every part of the country’.
Stevens told his audience at the conference that by March 2019 every patient in England should have extend access to general practice and rejected criticism that improving access will drive up demand. He said: “The reason we have a well functioning NHS is because of the accessibility of general practice. We do want accessible general practice and the accessibility of general practice has been getting worse. I accept that is partly because of the staffing issues. That is why staffing issues, funding, the redesign of primary care itself, and the availability of services for patients: those four things have got to go hand-in-hand.”