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GPs go forth

GPC to push for practices to be allowed to declare 'capacity shutdown' and major incidents

GP practices should be able to declare major incidents in the same manner as A&E when struggling with acute demand to ensure patient safety and GP health, GP leaders have said.

Voting at the annual LMCs Conference in London today, medical committees supported motions that would allow GPs to introduce ‘capacity shutdowns’ to remove the burden of appointment targets when practices are unable to cope.

The conference also voted to enshrine practices’ right to close their list where further registrations would jeapordise patient care, and voted for GPC to push for increased funding to ensure 15 minute appointments could be delivered to patients.

Proposing the motion, Dr Bruce Hughes of Devon LMC warned of the competing, unrealistic promises from political parties, saying: ‘[Politicians are] playing political ping pong, with right hand offering seven day working, on the left hand “see a GP within 48 hours guaranteed”.

‘Unfortunately, we are the ping pong ball. We are being knocked around in a flurry of cheap political sound bites.’

He added, giving ‘practices the ability to close their lists without any penalties and threats, could ameliorate some of this workload.’

Dr Hughes clarified that the part of the motion referring to major incidents and capacity shutdowns would not mean practices closing, but would allow the additional resource and free them from pressure to hit targets, such as the 48-hour standard proposed by Labour, or referral times.

Speaking on behalf of GPC, vice chair Dr Richard Vautrey said GPs should think whether they wanted more regulation of their working hours and lists on top of the current burden.

He said:’ [Think carefully] whether you want people with clipboards micromanaging you in the way that this might lead to. But we do recognise the sentiment behind it and support that.’

Motion 13 - Patient Safety

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by DEVON: That, in the interests of the safety of patients and the health of GPs, conference demands that practices should:
(i) be resourced to limit the maximum list size to no more that 1500 patients per whole time equivalent GP - Passed as a reference
(ii) receive increased funding to be able to offer standard consultation times of 15 minutes - Passed
(iii) be able to declare major incidents and capacity shutdowns in a similar manner to A&E, supported by equal access to emergency resources at times of system stress - Passed
(iv) have the right to close their list when they alone decide it it unsafe to take on more patients - Passed
(v) be enable to ensure GPs do not work beyond the legislated hours of the European Working Time Directive. - Failed


ctive. - Failed

Readers' comments (3)

  • Bye and thanks for all the fish

    (iv) have the right to close their list when they alone decide it it unsafe to take on more patients - Passed

    Great news, let's make sure this motion doesn't lose momentum.

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  • Agree with Dr Moss this is essential

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  • Well done, Dr Hughes.

    We have been blighted by this flawed structure, for years. In 2009 we took a unilateral step & refused to register patients beyond a given number (3,520). We subsequently shrunk our practice area in an attempt to limit the patient population. We then opened the list again. Our list size is now 4,150 and growing...

    See my blog, Mad Policy No. 2:

    It is vital that the GPC and the GP body be firm on this, no more prevaricating. There is such a thing as capacity, and if we go beyond capacity then the quality of the service suffers, it becomes unsafe, and morale plummets. This needs to be said, daily. It needs to be at the header of each project plan at the DoH and NHS England, and on the desk of each health minister and each member of the Health Select Committee.

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