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GPC to propose radical plan to merge all unscheduled NHS care in bid to solve out-of-hours crisis

Exclusive The GPC is poised to publish an alternative plan to improve out-of-hours care, proposing all unscheduled care is merged together and rebutting the health secretary’s call for contractual changes to force the profession to take back 24/7 responsibility for their patients.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, the new GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said they would propose that out-of-hours care, walk-in centres, minor injury clinics are merged and work together with the NHS 111 service.

Dr Nagpaul said that Jeremy Hunt’s call for contractual changes was a ‘red herring’ and ‘missed the point’ of how to solve the real problems with out-of-hours care.

He also said that CCGs had not been given real power over the budgets for unscheduled care and that many GP commissioners were ‘hamstrung’ from sorting out their out-of-hours care issues locally.

The comments are the first sign of how the GPC is going to fight back against a concerted campaign from the health secretary to force GPs to take back 24/7 responsibility for their patients.

Mr Hunt has suggested said he wants GPs to ‘sign off’ care for their patients out of hours and that he wants ‘the buck to stop’ with GPs by making them the accountable clinician for all the care their patients receive outside hospital.

But Dr Nagpaul branded the idea was a ‘populist tick-box’ and said that the GPC would be pressing for a different vision for out-of-hours care with all services providing unscheduled care locally working together.

He said: ‘The GPC has recently produced a document we will be publishing, proposing our version, our vision of how out of hours services can work in the NHS. We believe this does offer a sensible way forward that would meet the needs for patients.

‘I think the important thing for out-of-hours is to give GPs the ability to influence the organisation and delivery of out-of-hours services. We think the idea of talking about GPs being personally responsible contractually is a red herring and isn’t actually addressing the problem.’

He added that additional resources and a different model for out-of-hours care was needed: ‘We do not see the sense of having all of these separate players providing unscheduled care out of hours. To have 111 operating as a separate entity, having Darzi clinics seeing patients separately, having A&E minor injury clinics, and GP out of hours all separately.

‘We see an enormous benefit in bringing all the multiple unscheduled care providers together, but also bringing social care into the picture, to create a coordinated whole. We believe this will be able to offer patients the care they need out of hours.’

The announcement is the first big policy statement by Dr Nagpaul after being elected chair yesterday.

Hitting out at the Government, Dr Nagpaul said CCGs have not been given real power over the unscheduled care budgets and that the idea of having a ‘named clinician’ was not something that the GPC supported.

He said: ‘What we don’t want is a system which is either just a token gesture, neither do we want a system that is not deliverable. I think we need to learn more about what the Government wants with this and move away from a populist tick-box that you’ll have a named clinician.

‘We shouldn’t be talking about a named clinician, it is putting an end product before thinking what the needs are. So what I want it a dialogue with the Government about patient needs, patients of all categories.’


Readers' comments (31)

  • Well said 1014 pm
    And 135am!(why!.....guess it was Friday night)

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  • I hope 1:35 was an on call GP.
    It might be a bit of an eye opener for the public if we all logged on at some point during OOH shift to comment.
    And before some anonymous Daily Wailite suggests its a waste of taxpayers time, do remember medical staff do need hydration and physical needs breaks too!

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  • Yes...for too long we've absorbed the onslaught while being too afraid to state the frontline reality. Those who remember the beginning of the end if 'your own GP covering you OOH' remember all too well why it collapsed. Exponential rises in demand (I remember shocking graphs that convinced me the game was up)...
    We could probably have coped with the rise in complex miltidisease problems but what killed it was a rise in assertive selfishness. The loud selfish and uncaring rode roughshod over the needs of the most needy. Its the same for a&e, the police etc...and its the real reasonsble personalised care was destroyed. We will end up with an industrial sized service..but make no mistake why we ended up there.

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  • Anonymous 7.07PM is right to ask whether GPs have asked their patients. Last month, In the spirit of "evidence-based medicine", I did a straw-poll at a college reunion lunch in a riverside pub, on whether my 11 octogenarian fellow survivors were aware that in 2004, GPs had abandoned responsibility for their historic OOH continuity of care. The majority were as unaware as I had been, and were as shocked.. One, with an invalid wife, got angry, and started hammering the table demanding that GPs should return to their traditional responsibility for 24/7 care. He complimented me on my stroppy stance towards the medical profession, admitting that he didn't have the courage to answer back.
    That is what one group of patients thinks. Because of our age, we are a core group of NHS customers, and were not any old group of dribbling geriatrics. One was a high court judge.

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  • People demanding 24/7 are obviously oblivious to the fact
    or care not to listen to what was happening to 24/7 care
    Pre 2004.
    It was unsustainable due to demands of trivia at night (mixed in with real need )added to the vast increase in
    day time demands... It is worse now
    Humans can not do this safely!
    There is a system in place now that in general
    Means doctors working at night are then not
    Working during the day!
    How can that be so wrong?
    Patients want their doc who they see in the day
    to be available to them at night!
    How is that possible!

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  • The GPC seem to be proposing a common-sensible approach to OOH care - which means that HMG are likely to ignore it completely! Not enough sound-Bytes for them. People seem to have forgotten that practices were in effect driven out of providing OOH care - the criteria set following the Carson report into OOH provision set standards of response to calls which were just not achievable by small practices. That and the ever -increasing ooh demand by patients [ partly the result of HMG- fuelled over-expectation] made it an absolutely no-brainer for us to continue.

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  • I have an even better solution, charge patients for all OOH care, standard fee payable say of £20 for all care emergency or non emergency whatever the point of access and continue providing free care from 6-6pm Monday to Friday. It's incredible how demand will shift to normal hours given an incentive.

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  • I am very disappointed at all the comments above. Are you all GPs? If you are, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Many patients do not have "common sense" because there is no collective memory about minor illness. Confidence in their own judgement is at an all time low. Sure, there are those who are just lazy, but most are from people who are seriously worried. A help line (111) is just that, to reassure people that they can wait and there is nothing seriously wrong. Public Health campaigns and information need to be much more ballsy to be effective.
    Come on now, it's patients who pay you, stop saying it's all their fault!

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  • As a Patient Leader or trying to be i am shocked by some of the comments, posted here.Lets be honest there is no real patient involvement most PPGs are very small, made up of the same type of people and very rarely include anyone under the age of 60.They are also a happy hunting ground of ex NHS staff. If you buy a car you are given a service plan and warning lights on the dash board but to humans we just let them run until they drop. We must reach out and inform the public better on how to manage their health to reduce attendance at the GP's.

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  • Chaand's idea seems a very logical, positive and patient centred one. It's so confusing at the moment advising friends and relatives where to go for out of hours care no wonder most patients get confused. Developing a partnership of openness and trust with patients helps to avoid many of the horror stories listed above.

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