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Multi-billion investment released “to get general practice back on its feet”

A package of cash to develop general practice nurses, improve training and boost the number of pre-registration nurse placements has been announced as part of a multi-billion five year investment “to get general practice back on its feet”.

The extra cash has been announced by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and will be supplemented with a £500 million turnaround package and £171 million from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

The package revealed in the General Practice Forward View aims to see an extra 5,000 GPs, including doctors from overseas, and 5,000 other workers, including mental health therapists working in surgeries by 2020.

Stevens said that the pressures GP practices are facing in the NHS need to be acted upon. He said: “It's no surprise that a recent international survey revealed British GPs are under far greater pressure than their counterparts.”

“Rather than ignore these real pressures, the NHS has at last begun openly acknowledging them. We need to act.”

An extra £15 million will be invested in a general practice nurse development strategy, including extra pre-registration nurse placements, improved training capacity and measures to retain nurses and support others to return to work.

The Royal College of Nursing's chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said: “It is particularly encouraging to see funding for more practice nurses along with measures to improve their retention rates and to support return to work initiatives.

Practice nurses are key to reducing the strain on the rest of the health service.”

There will be 3,000 fully funded mental health therapists based at practices, 1,500 more co-funded practice clinical pharmacists.

Stevens also announced national funded support for practice nurses, physician assistants, practice managers and receptionists.

A new development plan is being launched for practice managers, with a £6 million investment to develop their roles. They will also get access to a new national development programme.

There will also be £16 million invested in specialist mental health services for GPs suffering burnout and stress, and to help retain them.

NHS England will be pumping £500 million into the system for CCGS to commission for “sufficient routine appointments at evenings and weekends to meet locally determined demand.”

Not every GP or practice nurse will work seven days a week but groups of practices or other providers will offer out-of-hours services.

Up to £45 million will be available for practice to offer online consultations.

The rate of inspections will be reduced, with Care Quality Commission Inspectors visiting good or outstanding practices every five years.

Stevens said: “One of the great strengths of general practice in this country has been its diversity across geographies and its adaptabilities over time. So one size will not fit all when it comes to the future shape and work of primary care.”