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Damp treatment and prescribing lunch clubs should form part of 'holistic' NHS approach, says Hunt

GPs could prescribe lunch clubs and damp treatment to their patients as part of a more ‘holistic’ approach to commissioning, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested.

Taking questions from the House of Commons health committee on healthcare spending, Mr Hunt said he finds it ‘interesting’ that GPs ‘are taking a broader view’ when deciding what to prescribe to patients. He went onto describe ‘social prescribing’ options which he said he did ‘not want to stand in the way of’ CCGs commissioning as GP prescribing options.

It comes as Pulse reported last week on GPs’ warning that cutbacks to social support was causing patients to become ill.

Mr Hunt suggested patients could be helped by CCGs commissioning services that addressed the ‘root cause’ of their health illness, which may be for example poor housing, having last week said CCGs should co-commission social care as well as primary care.

He told MPs today: ‘One of the things that I think is quite interesting is that GPs are taking a broader view of what the appropriate thing to prescribe is. We have seen a big growth for example in social prescription. Where GPs are saying that actually, the root cause of this person’s problems is isolation and loneliness and so effectively I am going to prescribe that you join a lunch club, or something like that, and make sure that you have company in your life. And I think we need to be open minded to CCGs who say actually this is the kind of thing that is going to help deal with the root causes.

‘There are other CCGs that look at look at housing problems. That have actually been sorting out the damp in somebody’s flat, because they realise that is the root cause of some of the problems they face. I think the NHS is taking a more holistic view of what it takes to address people’s medical problems than it did before, and I don’t think we want to stand in the way of that.’

The session also saw the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, quizzed by committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP over the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG’s announcement that it was going to tackle its deficit by rationing services to patients that are obese or smokers.

Asked whether he was supportive of the plans, Mr Stevens said NHS England ‘does have some reservations’ about the plans.

He said: ‘I know that there are pressures facing the CCG and rightly they need to respond to them… That said, we want to ensure, and they are obliged under the NHS Constitution, to ensure that patients get care where they can benefit from it according to reasonable criteria, and that there is proper consultation on any changes that are being made there, that the NHS Constitution provisions are in place. And so I think frankly we do have some reservations about the particular approach that has been proposed there.

‘I know that the CCG is reflecting on that in light of the public consultation and response. And so we will have to see what the decide but I would be surprised if that turns out to be the principle route to getting themselves ship shape going forward.’

Readers' comments (43)

  • "The Damp Prevention DES" You heard it here first....

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  • Why can't we just be left alone for a few months?

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  • How can I prescribe better politicians for my patients?

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  • Isn't it obvious, Hunt is moving department after the election. He can claim his holistic wonderful ideas never got into action.
    He never had chance to save the NHS.
    (and isn't damp homeopathy in the walls!)

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  • Jezza the gift that keeps on giving,he should stop taking class A drugs before speaking in public, I would have loved to see Sarah Wollaston's face when he said that

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  • perhaps if we could just get on with the medicine and weren't the answer to everyone's ills - ie someones else did it then we would all be happier

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  • I'm sure this guy secretly wanted to be a Dr when he was a kid and now feels sad he didn't ...to make up for his weird sense of inferiority he gets off telling Drs what to prescribe...how exciting for him...perhaps it's his way of making him feel like he's helping people ...to compensate for his vain and empty political 'career'

    I will be so glad when he's gone.

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  • So now we are responsible for housing, social interaction, in london we will be liaising with the debt and employment advisors, it must be time for GPs to prescribe a decent education, and perhaps we can even take our patients shopping and advise on what they put in their basket at the supermarket. I will have to take my children to our GP and ask that he prescribes board school :). Let's hope we are not held responsible for the dodgy builder.

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  • What is he talking about? Which GPs is he quoting? Anyone? Note to Hunt: GPs are DOCTORS. Stop trying to re-define general practice. Have you been listening to Prof Thomas? Our prime function is the practice of medicine.

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  • I would suggest that the Government devolve local Government to GPs since clearly we are better placed to assess needs and institute changes. Better yet create a GP-based meritocracy and get rid of these imbecile politicians altogether. Clearly the conclusion has been reached that we can be all things to all people. Now let's see.....Prof Thomas needs to spend some time in the sun in a warmer climate.....6 months in Syria should do the trick....Jezza is a bit overheated.......South Georgia would be nice

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  • FFS - this is a joke right ??!

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  • I prescribe a new health minister .

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  • The irony is, indirectly, he is right. Much of what takes up GP time are social issues, but on a broader scale, lack of exercise, poor nutrition. There is a TED Talk on the 'upstremists' ie upstream medicine. Whilst I totally disagree that these ills should be dumped, yet again, on GPs, if the onus was placed on local councils, employers, the food industry, then it can only benefit society and the NHS. However, it is not medicine and not good use of GP time or skills (like most of what we are being dumped with, the worried well, the lack of common sense in parents bring children in with a viral infection etc)......

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  • We will need to have builders lecturing on the Damp course module module at Medical schools?
    They`ll turn up for one lecture, finish early, leave a mess and then you won`t know when they are coming back.
    Dear Mr Hunt,
    I trained as a Doctor.I Initially trained as a surgeon. I know about diseases,pathology,etc all based on evidence. Whilst I understand the disease process, and prevention, I don`t think I am qualified, nor expected to sort out a leaking roof .
    Thanks

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  • Bob Hodges

    He'll have to write new sections for the BNF - 16.1.1 General Household and Ronseal Products, and 17.1.1 Light luncheons with company.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    LOL +++ to both of those last posts!!!!

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  • On a serious note can anyone see the trend?

    Both co-commissioning and this (as well as prev suggestions about integrating health and social care) all stinks of politicians trying to get the social budget out of health budget, in the meantime decreasing the overall spend - and then blaming the down fall on GPs.

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  • Aw come on .think of all the extra cash he's going to offer

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  • 'My neighbour had their damp fixed as it made her asthma worse.'
    Can you write a letter for the council?

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  • Push off, jezza

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  • So Drs there is no link between social ills and the presentations which some patients make and there is no merit in thinking how can these be dealt with more effectively and no future in placing the GP as the respected heart of the community - if you have a moment look via Google at the Peckham Experiment and consider how the GP could become pre eminent again

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  • can GPs prescribe benefit money?

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  • This guy is simply impossible to beat:)

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  • Abdul QADRI

    Let us remind our naive Secretary of State for health Mr Hunt that there are designated departments like housing & social services for tackling the issues of damping, elderly living in isolation & so on. CCG is there to make sure that the Gps are providing the appropriate medical care to their patients in the community according to the local needs.
    Mr Hunt needs to understand that Gps are Doctors & have been taught in the medical school to treat the real patients & not finding company for a lonely patients or providing dampness items from their prescribing budgets. This is really crazy & laughable.

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  • PM @11.30
    That's not what we are saying. We are clinicians, trained in the practice of medicine. Knowing what might affect presentations is not the same as having the responsibility to deal with matters non-clinical dumped upon us and carried along with the day job.

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  • its not mr hunt, it's the voices he is hearing that are telling him to say such things. Aliens are inserting ideas into his mind about progressive holistic medicine where social responsibilties rather than clinical responsibilities are pivotal

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  • Last time I posted I named pits it got moderated so here goes .... What a complete f**kwit

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  • Took Early Retirement

    You mean ********, surely?

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • Could we have a christmas competition to cheer us up a bit.what about the most ludicrous phrase of the year.now 'going forward' seems to have slipped backwards..mine (going forward) is 'parity of esteem'.any takers?

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  • Since when did building inspector become part of my job.

    You could just imagine the Daily Wail headlines,
    "Careless Arrogant Fat Cat Nonce GPs Enable Immigrant Cowboy Builders to Rip off Britain. Diana would be Shocked"

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  • It's April 1st, isn't it. It must be.

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  • Have just prescribed 3 damp courses a new roof and an extension bit worried about my prescribing budget but got a nice backhander from the patients

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  • It looks to me like this could be a clue as to where the massive cuts are going to come from should Hunt et al remain in power. Could be the end of the Welfare State and Public Services. Just dump all the responsibility onto our Fantistic GPs, then make them their whipping boys or scapegoats. When the money runs out, then it will force GPs to start discriminating as to who gets what leading to total mistrust and mayhem. All the GPs will flee abroad leaving a gaping hole they can fill with newly trained Salaried GPs, whose salaries and contracts will be substantially different.

    RIP our GPs you do not deserve this. Neither do we.............

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) I said it in the past: GPs are people's doctors: hence the best way to rule is to divide people and GPs. Yes , let CCGs be the scapegoat for austerity at the level of social care and welfare.
    (2)My Christmas card to Sarah with the same old message: Quit your party while you can still preserve your halo on the top of your head.
    (3)CCGs are to become the new enemy of common people . And CCGs are GPs by definition . So my Christmas card to you guys , GP commissioners , all quit and walk out after New Year's Day

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  • A long time ago, in far off Hartlepool, GPs could refer patients into lunch clubs and for replacement of coal-fired heating systems. It worked, addressing loneliness and helping the isolated elderly live in acceptable conditions. GPs had the right to refer because they and the district nurse were often the only friendly face these folk saw. Then came the cuts which removed the funding from the local authority. The principle is a good one, but not from health funding. That's simply a case of Hunt revisiting the old trick of protecting the budget numbers but sliding in a whole stack of new financial pressure. Seen that before anyone?

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  • I left the Army in 2008 and fortunately, I have good health and have not had the need to register with a GP.

    I have often wondered about where my Tax and National Insurance is going if I'm not using it but I am happy to contribute to the well-being of those less fortunate than me.

    HOWEVER, I have a damp room in my house and could do with a new roof and possibly an extension, I've also got a problem with some plumbing, where's that GP Registration form??

    A New Damp proof course for the price of a prescription...................... I'll have some of that thank you very much!!! Three cheers for Jezza... Hip Hip

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  • GPs should consider the economics of this: A letter for a patient supporting getting his damp sorted takes how much time? Patient making repeat visits due to damp-caused health problems takes how much time?
    Costs how much money? Patient no longer coming in because damp has been sorted saves how much money?
    As a hospital social worker, I started paying regular weekly, then bi-weekly visits to a client who had had at least five emergency hospital admissions for a few years before I became involved. During the year I was offering support, he had only one, and that was when he was away on holiday. Then I was told that my visits should stop, because they were taking up too much of my time. I'm sure that the difference in cost to the NHS/the hospital of my visits versus five admissions to intensive care annually would have suggested that this intervention was cost effective - but no one made the calculation.

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  • Maybe I am not up to speed here - I am assuming that the cost of the damp repair would come out of some housing support budget, not paid by the practice. Looking at some of the above, is Hunt trying to say that the Health/Social Care budget should pay for housing repairs? Then I see your point!

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  • @ Linda Hansard 7.48pm

    Totally agree - how else can they reduce the UK deficit. Don't forget that they plan to reduce our annual borrowing from £90B to zero by 2018. Only 40% of cuts have been made since 2010. So 60% to come in 3 years. However there is still the unheard of national debt of £1377B to pay back!! And if there is a run on bonds (and many economists predict this) interest rates (at an all time low) will rise and there will be NO public services!! God help all of us.

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  • maybe tory failure to build enough houses so forcing many people to rely on overpriced greedy buy to let slum landlords...and central government social care cuts..might be relevant,*unt?

    i await next week's insane delusional trash ..he is a laughable clown.

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  • I would prescribe giving up shift work.....

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30449818

    The obsession with a 24 hour society and the attitude that you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it is making our population I'll.

    This applies to NHS workers as well as all other workers and is the fault of successive governments as well as globalisation.

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  • so instead of pharma reps, we'll get builders coming in to buy us lunches?

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  • Some of you may interested to know that in Derbyshire the CCG has commissioned a service from the Community H/Service which employs Care Coordinators located in, but not directly funded by, Practices, to reduce unplanned admissions by linking directly with community health teams and signposting to all services such as public health projects, social care, housing, voluntary sector, MH, falls units, community beds, rehab, and anything else at all which affects patient welfare. It costs very little and enables GPs to offload non-clinical issues onto someone else in the building, thereby ticking lots of boxes.

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