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GPs could provide 24-hour care for the frail and elderly, says RCGP chair

GPs practices could provide 24-hour care for frail and elderly patients both - in and out of hospital - if given additional funding, the chair of the RCGP has said.

RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada told the London Assembly’s Health Committee that practices could be tasked with putting together ‘micro teams’ to free up time to deal with patients ‘proactively’.

Professor Gerada has recently been appointed as an appointed clinical chair for primary care transformation in London, charged with improving primary care services alongside London mayor Boris Johnson. She told Pulse that the role will see her tackle a range of ‘thorny’ issues - including the controversial question of whether GPs should retain their independent contractor status.

At a meeting discussing the rising pressures in London’s accident and emergency departments, Professor Gerada argued that investment in primary care-rather than propping up hospitals would help solve the crisis.

Professor Gerada said: [Given the funding] We can do a lot. There’s a whole series of things we can do better. One is we can improve continuity of care for those that require it, particularly the frail and elderly, we can risk stratify and find those patients.

‘I think we need to be providing 24 hour care for those patients in and out of hospital and in and out of hours. We can put together micro teams, to free up the time to deal with those patients proactively.’

She added: ‘We also need to be investing in and encouraging self-management for patients. There are a whole range of things that if we had the time we could use; e-templates, podcasts, we can start targeting those 29-year-old patients who don’t need to be in hospital.

‘We also need to be helping children. On a Monday afternoon A&E is almost like a playgroup, we need to be targeting those with better bespoke surgeries. At the moment we can’t do anything, at the moment we can barely get through a day’s work without being exhausted so that’s what we’d start to do given the money.’

Earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said lack of capacity in general practice and out-of-hours services were to blame for rising A&E attendances and overburdened emergency departments, a view which the Labour leader Ed Miliband said he opposed at the party’s conference this week.

Readers' comments (25)

  • So how are you going to change the terms and conditions of all the salaried GPs that are employed by the Hurley group ensuring you provide enough manpower for the micro teams?

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  • Well said Shaba. Where is this funding going to come from and the man power to do the 24 hr care for the elderly ? It will be suggested that the money will follow the patients and that even though there is an initial cash-flow problem, if GPs hit the road running and get organised..i.e, agree to take this extra onorous work for a pittance..the floodgates will open as soon as the recession ends and all will be handsomely rewarded. This ` waiting for the recession to end` would be like the ` With a view` offer in many practices, where the view eventually becomes just that of the back garden.

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  • An extraordinary misjudgement from someone who the GPs trusted to present reality and actually tell it like it is. I would personally recommend that Clare Gerada, provide this cover everyday for one month in winter after working in a heaving NHS surgery and then have the courage to tell this Government the truth. Another person selling the profession for personal gain and power. As always ..recommendations that are good for others. Not for herself.

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  • Please read what I am saying ! I am not saying GPs
    Should work harder - just differently and only if we get more resources
    Ps who says I am a private GP!!!
    I am an NHS GP
    I don't work 7 days per week but do 2 full clinical days per week as a mix of sick doctors, drug users and normal GP- soon to increase to 3 days
    I have worked as a GP for 25 yrs so please don't undermine my credentials

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