Motivating factors behind skill mix change: results from a practice managers' survey in England

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BACKGROUND: The expansion of the primary care workforce by employing a varied range of practitioners ('skill mix') is a key component of the General Practice Forward View (GPFV). The extent of skill mix change and where that has occurred has been examined using publicly available practice level workforce data. However, such data does not provide information regarding specific motivating factors behind employment decisions for individual practices nor future workforce plans. AIM: To identify key motivating factors behind practice workforce decisions and their future workforce plans. METHOD: An online questionnaire was sent to practice managers in England. Data collection is ongoing; however, 1000 practices have responded to the survey so far. The questionnaire was composed of questions related to current workforce, motivating factors behind employment decisions, planned future workforce changes, financial assistance with employing staff (for example, HEE or CCG funding) and ideal workforce. RESULTS: Early results indicate that practices that have employed physician associates have done so to increase appointment availability (78% of practices) and release GP time (68%). Sixty-six per cent of practices who have employed pharmacists have received some form of financial assistance with 21% of practices still receiving assistance. When asked to construct an ideal workforce, 'new' roles accounted for 20% of that workforce on average, which is a significantly larger proportion than those roles currently account for. CONCLUSION: Although data collection and analysis are ongoing, the results of the survey provide novel insights into the underlying motivating factors behind employment decisions, specifically for new roles such as pharmacists, PAs and paramedics.


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