By March of 2016, an estimated 18 million UK patients will have evening and weekend consultations offered to them via email, video and telephone. This is projected to increase daily appointments by an equivalent of 8,000, according to the Department of Health.
Funds Allocated to Redefine Practices
The underlying purpose is to redefine practices in place and used by more than 8.5 million patients. The intent is to increase space in clinics whilst offering extra services and better access to nurses, pharmacists and also speech therapists from listed GP surgeries. The role of pharmacists will be increased as they will have better access to patients’ medical records and thus, be able to provide advice that is more personalised.
The Origin and Aim of Funding
With only five weeks to go until the general elections in the UK, this announcement indicates where the funding will come from. Added to the existing amount of £50 million in the Prime Minister’s Challenge fund, an additional £100 million will be added. As well there will be a £250 million in the New Building infrastructure for IT and treatment rooms and also a transformation fund of £200 million for the 29 pilots that are aimed at integrating services offered by GPs, care homes and hospitals.
The additional money allocated to the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund is to support those 1,417 practices around the country and should be able to provide increased access to services from GPs to 10 million people. This funding comes on the heels of the first £50 million in funding for at least 1,100 practices that serve 7.5 million patients.
Results from Initial Funding
Initial results from the initial funding indicates that A&E attendance has been reduced by as much as 15%, according to the Department of Health. At the same time, the £250 million allocated to the infrastructure is going to enable at least 1,000 UK practices to establish integrated new health centres. This allocation of funds was announced originally in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. This funding should enable those centres to utilise technology and to create extra space in order to increase the amount of appointments that can be set.
Bringing GPs Back to the Practice
Those GPs who had a career break will be able to utilise £10 million of the infrastructure fund to help them return to their practice. It is also meant to be used to encourage greater numbers of students to begin careers as General Practitioners and also to provide those GPs who are thinking about early retirement to alternative of working fewer hours with a lighter caseload.
Part of the transformation fund that was announced last autumn is to be used to restructure patient care. Earlier this month, NHS England chose the initial 29 areas within the country that will receive a share of the funds for this purpose.