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GPs in A&E and care homes can cut unnecessary attendances, says Hunt

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said more GPs should be working in A&E departments and care homes to relieve the pressure on emergency services. 

Talking on Radio 4’s Today programme, the health secretary said that there was a need to recognise A&E was for accidents and emergencies, with GPs based in the departments seeing the 40% of A&E patients who don’t need emergency care.

In addition to GPs in A&E, Mr Hunt said he now wants to ‘expand the number of GPs operating in care homes’.

This follows an NHS England pilot of an ‘enhanced health in care homes’ enhanced service which requires GPs to do weekly ward rounds in care homes, which GP leaders said would stretch available GPs too thinly.

The GPC has called for the NHS to incentivise teams of pharmacists, community nurses, elderly care specialists and GPs to manage care home patients as part of its Urgent Prescription for General Practice report, but told Pulse this was not part of GMS contract negotiations.

Mr Hunt told Radio 4: ‘Around 40% of the people in A&E departments don’t actually need the care of an A&E. So we need to find other ways to look after their needs - GPs in A&E, works very well in a number of places.’

‘Also I think we need to expand their number of GPs operating in care homes, because they can often stop some of the most vulnerable patients [being admitted].’

’If you’re an 80 year old patient with dementia an A&E department can be one of the most confusing and bewildering places you can go.’

He added that this was something the Government had committed to do, but said changing attitudes to A&E would require working with the public.

GPC deputy chair Dr Vautrey told Pulse they had asked NHS England to ‘enourage CCGs to commission such services’, but added: ‘This isn’t a contractual discussion but a commissioning one.

‘We highlighted the need for more investment and dedicated teams to support work in care homes in our Urgent Prescription last year and we’ve raised it with NHS England.’

Mr Hunt also confirmed plans, revealed by Pulse last week in an interview with health minister David Mowat, to give all patients in London routine GP access eight to eight, seven days a week by March 2018.

He said these moves were ‘was a concrete example’ of how the £4bn pledged to fulfil the NHS England Five-Year Forward View was being spent.

Mr Hunt added: ‘In London - from next March – everyone will be able to access a GP from eight until eight, seven days a week. That is what we need to do to reduce the pressure on hospitals.’

Over Christmas, the new chair of the RCGP Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said plans for seven day services risked the collapse of core weekday care.

Readers' comments (26)

  • Jeremy.
    You're an idiot.
    Full stop.

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  • Presumably A/e visits are due to patients who believe their symptoms to be urgent.
    There are services that provide GPs 24 hours a day already - GP practices and the OOH service.
    So what is the innovation here?
    If the gov wanted more OOH GP access they could pay for it but instead they whinge on and on and on and on and on about there not being 8-8 gp access. If they want more extended hours they could pay for it in the existing framework, not cut the pay.

    (The 1st comment above is what I really mean to say.)

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  • 2 man GP practice with patients in nearly 20 different homes, over approximately 15sq miles. Clearly I need to have my time gainfully filled!

    Also should no doubt invoke HMRC inspection with regard to my milage and what about patient choice?

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  • Just like JH can cut funding and prove it is unnecessary. UK is in robust health, isn't it?

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  • How about relieving the pressure on GP services (instead of worsening it) and see how that works?

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  • The other place I find GPs are very helpful is in General Practice.

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  • Dear All,
    40% of footfall at A/E only need a GP. Put a GP in A/E. Will this reduce demand or increase it?
    Do no politicians believe in historic evidence. Everything thats being done has been done before and found wanting, bigger hospitals, smaller hospitals, GPs in A/E, GP polyclinics, one stop shops, PCGs, multifunds, PHCTs, fast track services, diagnostic centres, GP bed hospitals, all been tried and fallen from fashion and then rebranded and tried and fallen from fashion for the nth time. The only constant has been change.
    What has changed now is that the difference is that in the past governments were prepared to fund the change.
    Now Mr Hunt is using this verbage to take eyes of the target which is the systematic withdrawral of funding from the health care system (by which i mean the NHS plus Social Care).
    See through the smoke and mirrors to whats going on and bash on about that please.
    Regards
    Paul C

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  • Did anyone see Jezza on GMB this morning? First response to Piers Morgan's question about the crisis was it was due to GPs being off on holiday over Christmas and then coming back to work on the Tuesday and sending everyone into hospital.
    Remember "GPs ARE TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING".

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  • Hmm having GPs in A & E increases attendances locally - as the punters soon find out and rather than book an apt. they will turn up on the relevant day at A & E to see their favourite GP.

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  • when oh when will Mr Hunt finally get it? Doesn't matter where you place the supply if it remains the same amount of supply ie GPS parked in surgeries or GPS parked in A&E all that happens is you move the demand around . Demand is excessive and cannot be met as even with increased funding, no one wants to do the job anymore,unless you happen to be Bulgarian and have no idea what awaits. The only solution is to reduce demand either through massive public education campaigns and increase self care capabilities to that of our European and antipodean cousins or charge .Not rocket science Mr Hunt. Simple economics .

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