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A faulty production line

Hunt: A&E know some patients better than GPs

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed that A&E staff know some patients ’ more than their own GPs’ in a letter submitted to a national newspaper ahead of a speech this week on his plans to improve elderly care.

Mr Hunt is due to make an announcement this week on his plans for a ‘named clinician’ to take charge of the vulnerable elderly, and he claims in the letter that many of this group of patients ‘feel there’s no reliable alternative to hospital’.

He blames this on ‘misguided’ changes to the GP contract in 2004 and he raises the prospect of GPs and district nurses working together to keep patients out of hospital.

The letter in the Telegraph this morning says: ‘Too many old people feel there’s no reliable alternative to hospital. Since the last Government’s misguided changes to the GP contract, it’s become easier to go to A&E and harder to go and see a GP. In fact, we’ve got to a point where A&E staff know some patients better than their own GPs.

‘Of course, GPs don’t want it to be this way, and are themselves working harder than ever before. But sadly the 2004 contract changes undermined the personal link between them and their patients, as well as imposing a whole range of bureaucratic burdens. Labour’s intentions, as ever, were good. But the effect was to make it harder for GPs to be family doctors and give them less time for patients.

‘I’ll be announcing more about the changes we want through this year’s GP contract today. We need a much better way for vulnerable old people to journey through the NHS. They need someone from the service to be keeping tabs on them and championing them through the system all the time – and making sure they’re a name, not a number, whether or not they are in hospital.

‘As a member of the public I would like that responsible person to be my GP – but of course they will need support from many others, including our dedicated district nurses.’

But Professor Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said the comments would be ‘disheartening and morale-sapping’ for GPs.

She said: ‘Because of insufficient resourcing for general practice four out of five family doctors are concerned that it will become increasingly difficult to deliver continuity of care to vulnerable elderly people. 

‘Once again hardworking GPs are being attacked when the Government should be supporting them and giving general practice its fair share of NHS funding. Without that we cannot provide the quality of services in the community for all our patients that we all want.’




Readers' comments (29)

  • Care?

    I took VER aged 54yrs and love every minute of being an ex GP.

    Pay off your debts and get out whilst the exit door is still open

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  • Having looked at our frequent flyers, A&E know our chronic drunks, mental health patients and desperately ill patients, not because they access us any less in terms of total numbers of attendances (far from it), but because they spend more time with A&E.

    Do something about alcohol and peoples behaviour while under the influence of it. Fine them if needs be or preferably take their "drinking licence" from them. Do that and we have a chance, but politicians don't have the stomach for it, so the problem with frequent flyers will continue to drain our resources.

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  • Mr Hunt's true nature is revealed in these romantic untested ideas

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  • just looked at our frquent attenders one who attended 5 times all OOH to a&e came 48 times to the surgery in the same 12 month period!!

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  • well let A/E do the job than, they are not doing it for free
    (You get what you pay for; GP income is going down for lat 6 yrs and expenses are going up )

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  • As I have said previously, this is simply nonsense and will change nothing, because it cannot work unless the named carer is always available, clearly impossible. Hunt knows ways that out of hours care can be genuinely improved but they would cost money, so he ignores them and instead tries to fool the public with naive propaganda. I have long thought you were a poor politician Jeremy, and now you are forcing me to the conclusion that you are simply a fool.

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  • Our Practice area work very closely with our Community Nurses. We have a dedicated Community Nurse who just works with the patients in Care Homes. She has identified the areas which need special attention, and makes sure that the Care Home staff are educated as to who is the appropriate person to contact when a patient is unwell. She is usually the first point of contact, and visits the homes daily. If she thinks the patient needs to see a GP she will organise this; likewise if it is appropriate for the patient to go to hospital that is the route she will take. She has also identified where the care staff need more training, and has organised courses on such things as dressings, catheters, and feeds. Jeremy Hunt should stop knocking the Health Service and lget his mandarins to ook at what is going on in the regions, and see where something is working and try to replicate it in other areas.

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  • It is clearly the fault of GP's for looking after people so well they survive into old age . If we're so incompetent at looking after the elderly how come there are so many , Jeremy ?

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  • Does anyone really think that Mr Hunt is going to make any increased funding for General Practice ?

    We re desperately short of GPs in any event and if he is not careful we will end up like A & E with huge shortages of staff.

    All pie in the sky !! Dreaming !!

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  • I have become proactive in light of Jeremy Hunts recent remarks.
    Yesterday I identified a high risk elderly patient with our risk assessment tool, and today moved into her spare room . I will work 24/7 to keep her out of hospital .!!!
    Why don't more GPs follow this initiative .
    (It doesn't take long to adapt to the smell of stale pee)

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