PCNs and GPs have hired more than 26,800 additional roles reimbursement staff (ARRS), delivering on the Government’s manifesto commitment.
NHS England data published today (18 May) shows that there are 29,103 more full-time equivalent (FTE) direct patient care staff working in primary care as of March 2023 compared to March 2019, including 26,877 recorded through the ARRS and National Workforce Reporting Service (NWRS).
The hires include 6,331 FTE pharmacists, 5,507 FTE care coordinators, 3,433 social prescribing link workers and 2,124 pharmacy technicians.
NHS England said that the majority of the direct patient care staff recruited through PCNs will have been recruited through ARRS but that the method of data collection means exact figures cannot be distinguished from NWRS data.
The figures mean practices have helped reach the Conservative manifesto target to introduce 26,000 primary care staff to general practice by 2024 just under a year early.
It comes a week after NHS England published its primary care recovery plan, which focused primarily on cutting GP bureaucracy to free up GP time and 15 million appointments in the next two years.
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: ‘It is fantastic to see more than 29,000 staff join our general practice workforce since 2019, a year ahead of the Government target, following NHS recruitment campaigns with these new staff including mental health practitioners, social prescribers, and pharmacists offering people expert care and advice at their local practice.
‘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.’
Health secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We have delivered on our promise a year early to recruit 26,000 extra primary care professionals which means more clinicians delivering better, more specialised and accessible care to patients.
‘Building on the Primary Care Recovery Plan, we are determined to end the 8am scramble, improve technology and reduce bureaucracy.’
The news comes as the Government still has not published its long-awaited comprehensive NHS workforce plan although the recovery plan alluded to it including an increase in GP training places.