Is the Time for Care programme making a difference?

According to NHS England – and as reported by Pharma Times – over 500,000 hours of GP time have been freed up thanks to the Time for Care programme

The Time for Care programme has freed up over half a million GP hours, NHS England has announced.

The programme has allowed practices in England to let patients book appointments sooner, offer faster access to specialists and cut down on paperwork.

It has been piloted across several sites and will now roll out across the country.

Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England’s medical director for primary care and a south-east London GP said: “This programme has had significant benefits for patients and GPs alike, freeing up doctors’ time and NHS resources to ensure people get the care they need as quickly as possible, as part of our Long Term Plan for the health service.

“GP services will continue to be at the heart of our health service, and it makes sense to invest for another three years in a programme that is delivering so much for patients while helping us to be more efficient.”

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP), however, has stated that this must be part of a much larger solution for the betterment of general practice. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, commented: “NHS England’s evaluation of the Time for Care programme suggests it is making a real difference to some GP practices, and it is reassuring to know that NHS England are listening to our concerns about GP workload and taking action to help tackle this.

“However, most of our hard-working, hard-pressed GPs will still tell a different story of working longer and longer hours and seeing more patients per day to try and cope with demand, which continues to increase in both volume and complexity.

“The impact of Time for Care has to be seen as just one part of a much bigger solution that is needed, in the overall context of GP shortages and long-term underfunding of primary care.

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“The investment announced in the recent NHS Long-Term Plan and GP contract framework will take time to be felt on the ground.

“We are pleased to have more trainees in general practice than ever before, but this trend must be sustained and built upon, as well as continued urgent action to boost the GP workforce in the short-term.

“It is essential that the forthcoming workforce implementation plan launches effective strategies to boost the pipeline of GPs, protects and supports those who are struggling, and has robust solutions to expand the wider practice team – and that all this is properly funded.”

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