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GPs should offer 'group consultations' to save cash say McKinsey

By Gareth Iacobucci

PCTs have been told to ‘get their act together' and consider radical ways of decreasing costs in primary care, such as offering group consultations and increasing curbs on prescribing, by NHS consultants

Experts from McKinsey - the leading management consultancy firm advising the NHS - and the influential think-tank the King's Fund said GPs had so far been ‘left off the hook', but that there were big areas for efficiency gains in primary care.

They said measures – such as abandoning 'low value' procedures and streamlining the monitoring of long-term conditions - would help the NHS reach its target of finding £15-20 billion of saving by 2014.

Speaking a breakfast briefing yesterday, Dr Penny Dash, vice- chair of the Board of Trustees at the King's Fund and a partner at McKinsey, called on PCTs to ‘put pressure on providers' to be more efficient.

She added there was scope for taking ‘significant spend out of the primary care' by focusing on prescribing costs and facilitating more use of telephone and email consultations and even examining group consultations.

‘We have got to get our act together. We need better performance management of GPs in particular; PCTs need to really start to put pressure on providers. We have let GPs off the hook,' she said.

She also echoed controversial suggestions, first put forward by the NHS Confederation that the NHS should consider abandoning ‘low value' procedures such as hip and knee replacements.

‘People have knee replacements and think that they will be running up a hill the next day, but it if often marginal improvement. If we are very brave then e can reduce quite a bit.

Alasdair Liddell, senior associate at the King's Fund, also warned that all NHS staff and GPs should brace themselves for taking on more work for no financial gain.

‘Some will have to do more, without being paid more, I can't think of a kinder way to put that,' he said.

PCTs urged to target GPs to save cash

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