Primary care services are central to transforming people’s health and wellbeing, providing 90% of all NHS patient contact (Gov.uk 2015). However, primary care services are under unprecedented strain from rising demand, with patients finding it increasingly difficult to access services. Indeed, the number of outpatient appointments has nearly doubled since 2006-07, rising from 63.2 million appointments to 118.6 million in 2016-17 (NHS Digital, 2017). Furthermore, with the UK’s population projected to increase by 3.6 million over the next 10 years, the volume of patients visiting clinics is likely to continue rising.
In response the Government published the General Practice Forward View in 2016, committing £2.4bn additional funding for GP services by 2020/21. This five-year programme pledges to support struggling practices, expand the workforce, accelerate the transformation of services and underpin the sustainability of workloads. Key targets include, funding 5,000 more GPs, 3,000 new mental health workers and 1,500 pharmacists in general practice by 2020, as well as embedding new technologies to improve patient care and reduce waiting times.