The Health Foundation, Kings Fund and Nuffield Trust recently published a report Closing the Gap: key areas for action on the health and care workforce. The report looked at two areas – nursing and general practice, both very relevant to MSK health care. At the moment the future looks bleak, with 41,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS and another 5,000 in social care. There are 2,500 fewer GPs than are needed. The report, however, is optimistic that these shortfalls can be addressed, provided policy changes are made.
On nursing, the recommendations include increased training, international recruitment and a range of measure on pay and career opportunities. There are particular issues for recruitment of specialist nurses, something which ARMA member the Rheumatology Nursing Network is very aware of.
Proposals for general practice chime exactly with the work ARMA members have been doing around First Contact Practitioner. The report recognises the potential for nurses and AHPs to work across traditional boundaries and deliver more patient-focused care, moving from a traditional GP model to multidisciplinary team working. It is important to remember that these changes don’t just help make up the shortfall in GP numbers, they also have the potential to improve patient care.