Wales online article by Mark Smith, 7 April 2016: GPs, community nurses and care workers set to benefit from £43m investment in primary care

It is part of the Welsh Government’s plan to move services out of hospitals and into communities

The Welsh Government has announced a £43m investment in primary care for 2016/17

General practice, community nursing and social care are set to benefit from a £43m cash injection from the Welsh Government.

The money will be invested over the next year to improve access to primary care and continue to move services out of hospitals and into communities.

The Welsh Government’s primary care plan, which was published in 2014, sets out a vision for enhancing services across Wales so the more care is planned and provided closer to people’s homes.

Primary care ‘clusters’ to be given funding
As part of the £43m package for 2016/17, £26m will be made available to health boards to help implement their local plans.

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A total of £10m is being ploughed into Wales’ 64 primary care “clusters”. They feature groups of GPs working with pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, therapists, nurses, social workers, third sector workers and others to plan and provide services for their local communities.

Additional allocations

  • £3.8m in 2016-17 for a national programme of projects which look at new and innovative ways of planning, organising and delivering the wide range of services which make up primary care
  • £720,000 a year to support joint work in Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf university health boards to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in communities where people are at an increased risk
  • £500,000 a year for the expansion of the academic fellows’ scheme, which allows doctors with an interest in academic research to combine their medical duties with time in a university research environment
  • £428,000 for Aneurin Bevan, Cwm Taf, Hywel Dda and Powys health boards for their pathfinder schemes to treat wet age-related macular degeneration in local communities, outside hospital settings

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Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Our vision for primary care is for more services to be delivered in local communities, closer to people’s homes, with care being delivered by a range of skilled healthcare professionals working together as a team.

“The £43m primary care fund for 2016/17 builds on the significant multi-million pound investment we have made in recent years. It will focus on service sustainability, improving access and to moving more services out of hospitals into primary care.

“I am particularly pleased to be able to make £10m – an extra £4m this year – which will be allocated directly to Wales’ 64 primary care clusters, to support their development and boost local primary care services.”

Nurses have ‘leadership role’
The Royal College of Nursing said the investment in primary care will go some way in supporting the development of the general practice and community nursing services.

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Alison Davies, associate director (Professional Practice), said: “Nurses in Wales have a leadership role in the delivery of primary health care.

“Traditionally health services have focused on the treatment of disease, rather than health promotion and the prevention of ill health.

“In Wales nurses have been at the vanguard in shifting the emphasis to preventative and primary care. For example, in many GP practices nurses run asthma and diabetes clinics and provide health screening for patients/clients.

“Yet primary care is broader than health services delivered within general practice. It also incorporates health promotion and working with communities to enable them to maximise their health potential.”

Pharmacies ‘can do more’
A Welsh group of pharmacies claim the industry can support primary care far more than it is currently doing so.

Dr Mo Nazemi, managing director of Evans Pharmacy, said: “There are more and more budget restraints on the NHS and we, as a profession, are willing and able to do so much more for our patients.

“Welsh Government announced earlier this month that funding was available for pharmacies in Wales to finally get full access to patient health records.

“This is key in allowing far more services to be made available via your local community pharmacy. This would be more accessible for the patient and cheaper for the NHS.”

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