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Hunt promises to release GP time to 'support urgent care services'

The Department of Health has indicated that the QOF reporting period is to be 'extended until April' to allow GPs to support under pressure urgent care services.

In a statement in Parliament, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a series of proposals to support secondary care services, including 'releasing time for GPs to support urgent care work'.

The DH later wrote in a tweet that this would include extending the QOF reporting period until April. However, it later deleted the tweet and it was unclear whether the reporting period would be extended, and until when, considering the deadline is usually 31 March. 

Other measures announced by Mr Hunt included suspending elective care and non-urgent outpatient appointments where necessary.

He also said that the Tuesday after Christmas was the 'busiest day in the history of the NHS'.

It comes as the BMA has said the situation in hospitals is reaching 'dangerous levels', and blamed the Government for the ‘unacceptable absence of additional funding for health and social care in the autumn statement’.

Mr Hunt said: 'With further cold weather on the way this weekend, a spike in respiratory infections, and a rise in flu there will be further challenges ahead.

'So NHS England and NHS Improvement will also consider a series of further measures which may be taken in particularly distressed systems on a temporary basis, at the discretion of local clinical leaders.

'These may include: temporarily releasing time for GPs to support urgent care work; clinically triaging non-urgent calls to the ambulance service for residents of nursing and residential homes, before they’re taken to hospital; continuing to suspend elective care, including where appropriate suspension of non-urgent outpatient appointments.'

The DH's twitter feed added that this would include extending the QOF reporting period:

screen shot 2017 01 09 at 17.18.11

screen shot 2017 01 09 at 17.18.11

The British Red Cross announced on Friday that it had been deployed to hospitals and ambulance services to cope with what the chief executive Mike Adamson called a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the NHS.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: ‘This intervention from the Red Cross highlights the enormous pressure the NHS is currently facing as conditions in hospitals across the country are reaching a dangerous level.

'The Government should be ashamed that it has got the point where volunteers have been necessary to ease the burden.’

He added that the 'unacceptable absence of additional funding for health and social care in the Autumn statement has only further exacerbated the crisis'.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine, which warned last week that only 77.62% of patients were seen within the four hour target in the previous week, also denied that official discussions had taken place with the Government over 'extra funding for Emergency Medicine', despite what some reports today 'imply'.

But RCGP chair Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said general practice was already 'working flat' to cope with the pressures during the winter period and would need more drastic measures to help.

She said: 'General practice has a history of emergency preparedness plans ready to activate in times of crisis, such as during flu pandemics. We urge the Secretary of State and clinical leaders to take sensible decisions based on those measures - such as temporary suspension of GP appraisals, QOF targets and CQC inspections - so that all of our time, expertise and effort is directed where it is needed most, at the frontline of patient care.'

Readers' comments (29)

  • Doctor McDoctor Face

    That's about as much use and an incentive as free toilet paper for a month. And I suspect that QoF payments will be delayed for a month more than usual as well.

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  • Who will pay our extra indemnity even if we wanted to prop a failing system by working extra at nights and weekends.When I already do a near 60 hour week not including work done at home hardly ever seeing my wife and kids its a big NO from Me Mr Hunt.Add to that since 2004 no increases in funding anywhere near inflation you can go to hell.Your reap what you so it is now time for you to pay your penance.

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  • The problem for GPs is that every single 'successful' discharge of an inpatient or outpatient to primary care without follow up carries with it a well documented list of transferred / dumped work, risk and responsibility to the GP which, once seen, cannot be ignored or not seen and will lead to action from CQC, GMC, press, civil and criminal courts if not acted on. Given the rush with which patients are discharge the workload and hidden risk for these patients with failing kidneys, potential malignancies, follow up regarding drugs reactions and allergies etc is massive. So although WIC, A/e, inpatient, time, online advice, OOH can deal with urgent problems, the routine / follow up work for GPs is fixed.

    I would therefore recommend GPs don't cut down their follow up appointments or time to review hospital letters as this will certainly lead to errors.

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  • This will just be a way to delay payment for QOF and for NHS England to argue over results.
    NHS England routinely treat GPs in a "disgraceful" manner and this degrading treatment will only worsen.

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  • Ha Ha Mr Hunt - you really are a plonker!

    can some one in the 'House of Wallys' please grow a pair and either

    1.tell the public we cant afford what they expect, want or at times need!

    or

    2. plug the massive and growing financial deficit in the health and social care piggy bank

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  • There is no crisis. He said so this morning. He also wanted to thank the healthcare staff for all their hard work.
    I feel so much better now he has recognised all of the extras hard work we are doing.
    Would be nice if a bit of funding followed that extra work.

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  • An extract from my dictionary

    Hunt/ hAnt/n coarse slang 2 offens, an unpleasant or stupid person. [Middle English, from Germanic]

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  • This morning in an interview with piers Morgan, he also said when under pressure "Well these problems are totally unacceptable. This is the most difficult time of the [stutters] – for the NHS in the year. It always is difficult after the Christmas period when GPs surgeries aren’t open over the actual days of Christmas, and then they re-open, and then a lot of people get sent to hospital. The Tuesday after Christmas was the busiest day". So it's all the GPs fault in the morning and by the afternoon we are expected to be his saviours. A SOS for health who does not know gp services are available24/7/365 paid for out of the GMS contract via opt out shouldn't be in his job.

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  • Any neurologists out there? On watching Jezza Berkeley closely and having detected what appears to be an unconscious wobbling of his head whilst talking with a tendency to intermittently stare I, as a non-specialist, wonder if he has a problem with his vestibulospinal tract. I think he would make an excellent 'spotter' diagnosis for those with MRCP aspirations.

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  • Anonymous Locum GP

    seriously how how will his plan will work?

    it just seems to be meaningless - how can extending QOF reporting free time for urgent care ?

    can someone from doh answer this as i don't understand

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