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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Bid to back GPs identifying carers

By Rob Finch

GPs would be given more

money for identifying and supporting carers under plans being considered by MPs.

A private member's Bill brought by Labour MP Barbara Keeley aims to change GPs'

contracts so that keeping a

register of carers becomes part of their core work.

GPs would also be obliged

to refer carers to sources of

advocacy and information when appropriate under the proposals.

The only incentive for GPs to keep a register of carers at present is three quality points. From April 1, GPs in Scotland

also get £1,150 per average

practice to flag up carers and provide liaison for social services via a directed enhanced services.

Speaking in the Commons, Mrs Keeley, MP for Worsley, said research had shown GPs' work to identify carers through the three available QOF points had been 'patchy'. She added: 'Some GPs say they are too busy to undertake the work.'

Although the Bill has cross-party support, it is highly unlikely to become law.

Mrs Keeley told Pulse she wanted to use the Scottish

example to prompt the UK

Government into action to further incentivise GPs to target carers.

Dr Amarjeet Ahuja, a GP in Manchester ­ who was mentioned in Mrs Keeley's Commons speech ­ has identified an extra 90 carers through a simple list trawl.

She sent letters to all potential carers of patients over the age of 70 asking them to update their contact details. She also included consent forms and self-addressed envelopes to boost the response rate.

Dr Ahuja said: 'Its part of good-quality practice. It is hard work making all the phone-calls but it pays off in the long-run.'

Other GPs were more sceptical about greater incentives to identify carers.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said: 'The jury is out on what work needs to be done with carers.

'The idea of a DES is something and we won't oppose that. In fact we suggested it to the English Department of Health and they rejected it.'

Dr Peter Calveley, a GP in Lincoln with an interest in elderly care, said creating registers was not a big burden as long as it was targeted at the right group of patients.

He added: 'There are loads of demands on GPs' time and we would need to justify the evidence for doing this.'

rfinch@cmpinformation.com

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