Over 26,800 primary care staff have been recruited into general practices under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) since 2019, meeting the government’s recruitment target one year ahead of schedule.
In its election manifesto, the Conservative government committed to recruit 26,000 additional primary care professionals – such as practice-based pharmacists, general practice nurses and mental health practitioners – to work in general practice by March 2024.
And today the Department of Health and Social Care announced that it had already met its target, with 29,103 additional primary care staff now working in general practice.
Some 705 full-time equivalent (FTE) nursing associates and 777 FTE trainee nursing associates have been recruited in primary care between March 2019 and March 2023.
And by March 2023 there were 17,032 FTE nurses working in general practice and primary care networks (PCNs), including 4,069 FTE advanced nurse practitioners and 11,321 FTE practice nurses.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that it was ‘fantastic news’ that the government had delivered on its promise to expand primary care teams almost one year earlier than planned.
‘These dedicated professionals play a vital role at the front door of our NHS – supporting patients, delivering excellent care and helping to cut waiting lists’, he said.
While Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said that increase in ARRS staff meant ‘more clinicians delivering better, more specialised and accessible care to patients’.
He added that the government was focused on cutting waiting lists and remained ‘determined to end the 8am scramble [for GP appointments], improve technology and reduce bureaucracy’.
And Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, said that ‘thanks to these new GP teams record numbers of appointments are being delivered, with the latest figures showing that more than 31 million appointments took place in March 2023 – up almost a third compared to pre-pandemic.’