This week has seen the government under attack from MPs for its poor handling of the early stages of the pandemic. As the NHS starts to pick up the pieces, the government has announced more funding for GPs, while Health Education England has said that trusts must prioritise the training of junior doctors to make up for time lost during Covid.
NHS England, working alongside the Department of Health and Social Care, is to provide a funding boost to GP practices, with the aim of improving patients’ access to GP appointments.
Surgeries will receive a £250m winter access fund to enable them to improve GP availability, so that patients who need care can receive it, often on the same day if necessary. The money will fund locums and support from other health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists. The scheme is part of a wider drive to support general practice and level up performance, including additional efforts to tackle abuse against staff.
Vacancy rates in social care fell during the pandemic, but are now above their pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from Skills for Care.
The report, The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, also found that an average of 9.5 days lost were lost to sickness in 2020/21 compared to 5.1 days before the pandemic.
Staff turnover rates decreased during the pandemic, with registered manager turnover rates dropping by 4.7 percentage points, and that of care workers by 3.7 percentage points. Since March this year, employers have reported that retention has been adversely affected by the opening up of the wider economy and that recruitment and retention is now more difficult than before the pandemic.
The Greater Manchester care record, deployed early in the pandemic in 2020, has been found to save an average of 15 minutes on every patient appointment.
The care record, based on Graphnet’s shared record solution, brings together patient information held in multiple health and care settings, enabling GPs, nurses and care practitioners to access comprehensive and up-to-date records. Nearly 11,000 frontline users access the records every month to help care for more than 108,000 patients.
The system enables clinicians to make well-informed treatment decisions as well as saving patients from having to repeat information.
A report by MPs has described the UK’s early handling of the Covid-19 pandemic as “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced.”
“Coronavirus: lessons learned to date,” a joint report from the Commons science and technology committee and the health and social care committee, says that although the UK was one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid it “squandered” its lead, and “converted it into one of permanent crisis.”
The report praises the vaccination drive, however, as “one of the most effective initiatives in the history of UK science and public administration.”
Medical training must be prioritised if services are not to suffer, Health Education England (HEE) has said.
In an interim report on Covid training recovery, HEE notes that training of junior doctors has still not returned to pre-Covid levels. During the pandemic, junior doctors’ training was disrupted because thousands of staff were redeployed to Covid wards.
According to the report, if medical training is not “prioritised and funded”, the “long-term costs to service are significantly greater”.