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Independents' Day

NHS England sets out 'aspiration' for GPs to guarantee patients an appointment within four hours

GPs may have to provide access to patients within just four hours under ‘aspirational’ plans set out by an NHS England regional area team.

The proposal, made by NHS England’s London regional director Dr Anne Rainsberry at an event to ‘improve primary care’, was welcomed by the Department of Health, which praised it as an ‘innovative’ scheme to keep people out of hospitals.

However, local GP leaders said that NHS England in London was wrong to blame ‘poor primary care’, and that it should instead look for ‘sensible solutions’.

Dr Rainsberry told journalists at an event yesterday that offering patients four-hour access to GPs would help ease pressures on A&E.

An NHS England in London spokesperson told Pulse afterwards that Dr Rainsberry’s comments should be seen as an ‘aspiration’.

The spokesperson added: ‘It was part of a discussion about young people in London visiting A&E departments rather than GP services as they know that they will be seen within four hours. Our position is clear that primary care needs to change to meet the needs of the whole London population.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘It is encouraging to hear about the innovative plans GPs are putting in place to deal with the high demand on A&E services.’

‘GPs are ideally placed to support people to stay well and out of hospital and we are working closely with NHS England to consider how primary care can be further strengthened to support such innovative ways of working. This will form a key part of our vulnerable older people’s plan, due to be launched in the autumn.’

Dr Rainsberry’s remarks came at the launch of an NHS England London regional team initiative to ‘improve primary care’, attended by more than 200 NHS and social care leaders who met to discuss ‘recovery and improvement plans showing how GPs, social care providers and community services can provide better out-of-hospital care for people with long term conditions or non-life threatening but urgent care needs’.

But Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: ‘NHS England London say the problems of A&E in London are due to poor primary care. We say the problems of general practice in London are due to a complete lack of investment over the past two decades in our primary care infrastructure in London, combined with ridiculous four hour targets which encourage attendance at A&E.

‘London’s GPs expect NHS England London to talk to Londonwide LMCs about how to agree sensible, sustainable and realistic solutions to address the root causes of their concerns, if together we are to crack these issues.’

Readers' comments (34)

  • There seem to be a lot of deaf people about. .

    YOU CANNOT CHANGE PATIENT BEHAVIOUR BY "EDUCATING" THEM TO USE SCARCE RESOURCES IN MODERATION.

    Got it yet?

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  • Why four hours? Why not two? Or one? Or, even better, "If there is more than one patient waiting in front of you, we will open another consulting room."

    Just how fecking stupid are these people?!?

    And does she really get paid for that type of official copremesis?!?...

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  • Harry Longman

    We have evidence of GPs doing far far better than this, achieving median response times of 30 or even 15 minutes, but we can never support the use of targets which have been disastrous wherever applied.
    Think differently Dr Rainsberry.

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  • Using the title 'Dr' when discussing this woman is massively misleading. She's obviously not been anywhere near a real doctor, or she'd know that we all think she talks crap.

    What the **** do these people think we already spend 12 hrs a day doing?

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  • Hear hear to the above comments.
    I don't know when but I'm waiting for the email that tells me that my employer is now NHS London - it might as well be as they clearly don't trust GP's and beleive change 'for the better' can only come about through micro-managing every aspect of our work. They'll be asking us to explain how we spend our petty cash next!

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  • Another ridiculous idea that does not get to the heart of the problem - patients unrealistic expectations of - and demands on - a cash limited and free at the point of use service. No patient responsibility for using (or abusing) the nhs, no acceptance of need, just want - and NOW! - regardless of the needs of others.

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  • So what are GPS planning to do about these ridiculous demands by the politicians . Whinging about these impositions is useless.

    Actions always speaks louder than words.

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  • Absolutely...it is the answer,however GP 's will have to be available not working a 3 day week.

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  • Absolutely,it is the answer but GP's will have to be available and not working 3 days per week.

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  • It may be that "offering patients four-hour access to GPs would help ease pressures on A&E", but then what eases the pressure on General Practice? Are we meant to be feeling sympathy for a department staffed with a full team of medics, nurses and health care assistants, with access to immediate investigations, and the ultimate discharge advice of "see your GP for follow-up"? I suspect we all need to walk a day or two in each other's shoes to remind ourselves that we are equally important services in the front line of NHS care, and not the disgruntled opponents the politicians are trying to turn us into. We should try to stand strong as a united medical workforce, not divided departments, and in this way we may defend what was a great NHS against the political scythe that divides and conquers.

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