Multi-disciplinary teams

In May 2019, the Royal College of General Practitioners published Fit for the Future, the College's vision for general practice in 2030. 

Fit for the Future advanced the College's policy positions across a number of key areas. This included supporting the development of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in general practice, superseding a March 2018 position statement on the wider clinical team in general practice.

The expansion of the general practice workforce - in both size and scope - is recognised in Fit for the Future as a "step-change" in the evolution of general practice, bringing significant benefits to both patients and clinicians. Expanding the MDT is crucial if general practice is to meet growing demand and deliver a wider range of services in the community, in line with the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.

As more staff are recruited, clinical workload can be shared out, mitigating the burden placed on individual clinicians. Over the longer term, this is enabling GPs to refocus on using their expert generalist skills to deliver holistic, relationship-based care to patients with the most complex needs, including those with multi-morbidity and undifferentiated illness. Yet the GP role remains the lynchpin of expanded teams. GPs continue to manage risk and hold ultimate clinical responsibility for patients. At the same time, GPs are leaders in their teams, providing supervision, support, training and development within recognised frameworks. What form this leadership takes varies, reflecting the different degrees of independence of different staff.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this vision is being embraced across the UK and early benefits of MDT expansion are already being felt. The increasing breadth of the general practice workforce is making it easier for patients to access treatment by a professional with the appropriate skills for their needs, without referral to a specialist service. New expertise is enabling a greater emphasis on improved patient self-management and community health. As patients see these benefits first-hand, they are coming to understand and trust the skills and experience of different team members.

Through our policy and campaigns activity we continue to work with key external stakeholders to drive forwards this agenda. In particular, we have called for further resources from government to support the training and recruitment of the MDT. While there has been some progress in these areas, our next key step will be to explore what steps government and local systems could take to ensure that the growth of the general practice workforce is sustainable, in different communities across the UK, and what barriers still stand in the way of achieving this.

Find out more about Fit for the Future.

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