Concern over ‘non-medical’ staff proposal

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PATIENTS have raised concerns over plans to rely on ‘non-clinical’ staff in place of medics.

Workforce numbers across the NHS in Hampshire is set to be frozen as health chiefs aim to slash £577m from their budget.

It comes as analysis of the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans across the country reveals they aim to cut £22bn from the healthcare system in England.

As part of the scheme ‘care navigators’ will be brought in, to help guide patients to the right care.

Among the plans in Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport and Fareham, there will be:

n Development of non-medical workers in primary care.

n Increase of non-medical students and trainees in primary care.

n New roles in the non-medical primary care workforce.

n Receptionists trained in ‘care navigation skills’.

GP practices are also struggling with nursing posts, it can be revealed.

Portsmouth CCG’s plan said: ‘Increasingly practices are reporting clinical vacancies with practice nursing capacity being at significant risk in the city.’

Steve Southwell, 64, of Havant, is on the patient group at Homewell Curlew.

He said patients do have concerns about speaking to non-clinical ‘care navigators’, according to surveys carried out at the practice.

‘People are quite uncomfortable about that,’ Mr Southwell said.

‘From a personal point of view, I think it’s something that people are going to have to get used to.

‘I don’t see the system working without it.

‘But there’s a lot of people (who have problems) discussing their symptoms with a non-clinical person before getting an appointment.

‘It’s a privacy thing, they don’t feel comfortable talking about it with someone who’s not a medical professional.’

At the same time, recent NHS figures have shown the number of GPs in the country dropped by almost 100 in the past year, down to 34,495 full-time equivalents in September 2016 compared to 34,592 the year before.

New analysis by the Royal College of General Practitioners of the 44 STPs being drawn up across the country to tackle the funding shortfall has warned they contain a ‘paucity of solutions’ to tackle the workforce challenge.