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Nearly 420 extra GPs needed across country to deliver A&E streaming service

Exclusive The NHS may need to find an extra 400 GPs to deliver the Government's pledge to put a GP streaming service in every A&E department, Pulse can reveal.

NHS England has said 'every hospital' should implement a 'comprehensive front-door streaming model by October 2017' which should be up and running 'by Christmas'.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said this comes as the system is working ‘spectacularly at hospitals like Luton and Dunstable’, which were able to admit or discharge 95% of its patients within four hours this winter despite mounting pressures.

But Pulse has learned that Luton and Dunstable University Hospital employs two to three GPs every day of the year and if the model is rolled out nationwide to the 139 trusts with major A&E departments, between 278 and 417 GPs would need to be working in A&Es on any one day.

This comes as official figures revealed last month that the equivalent of over 400 full-time GPs left the workforce in the last three months of 2016.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the plans 'run counter' to the Government's pledge to expand general practice, and GPC workforce lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said it was 'doubtful' the plan was feasible.

The Government's Spring Budget pledged £100m towards the scheme, which the DH will be distributing to around 100 A&E units based on NHS England and NHS Improvement recommendations.

The investment will be transferred to the department’s budget for 2017/18, but will not increase the baseline budget in subsequent years, the DH said.

When asked for more details on how the scheme would be staffed, the DH reiterated that it was 'already working in Luton and Dunstable Hospital'.

The spokesperson added: 'As part of our plans, we want to see more of our excellent GPs in urgent and emergency care, helping patients to get the right treatment, whilst making the best use of staff time.'

But Dr Vautrey said that having a GP in A&E who will be expected to see patients within four hours 'will simply draw in more inappropriate hospital attendances’ as the shortage of GPs is causing ‘longer and longer waiting times’ in GP practices.

He said: 'NHS England has stated that it intended to invest preferentially in general practice rather than hospitals, and yet this policy runs counter to that and risks making the same mistakes as have been made in the past when the creation of walk-in-centres just fuelled demand and became unaffordable.'

And Dr Kasaraneni added: 'Given this chronic lack of GPs, it is doubtful enough will be available to staff triage services in hospitals and most importantly we actually need more GPs in local surgeries.

‘The Government should be focusing on this as a priority because we cannot soldier on with an understaffed GP service that is unable to provide enough appointments to patients.'

NHS England declined to comment.

The Luton and Dunstable GP streaming model

The hospital has a co-located urgent GP centre, which is open from 8am to midnight, every day of the year.

Between two and three GPs work in the centre daily, with a minimum of two GPs working there at any one time.

The GPs at the centre see an average 120 patients a day.

The trust did not provide Pulse with information on the cost of running the centre.

Source: Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust

Readers' comments (12)

  • Would not do this for all the tea in china,indemnity costs/higher rate tax,time away from family.They will have to pay very high rates to get the numbers.They risk de-stabilizing out of hour by churning the usual suspects who still flog themselves silly doing this.

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  • Cobblers

    More experienced doctors on the front line means more patients seen and decisions made. Why is this news? Why do politicos feel it worth trumpeting?

    As 10.46 correctly says that this will, if implemented, cost loadsa dosh. That's just paying the extra 2-3 doctors on the front line. As to where you are going to get them from and how they will be indemnified we will just have to guess.

    NHSE living in Cloud Cuckoo land?

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  • Use limited NHS funds to employ scarce GPs to see patients to tell patient they should see their home GP service without increasing meaningful funds to home GP service.

    What could wrong?

    'Classic NHS'

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  • Scrap internal market system = no tariff= no incentive for A+E to suck customers through its doors.

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  • In my experience only a very small percentage of these patients are fully sorted and the vast majority are directed back to their own gp for review of their ongoing / chronic problem they either wanted a second opinion on; had been told there was no appt for at their own surgery or just thought the best outing on a cold and wet easter weekend was their local a&e.
    Sort out the funding Staffing crisis in GP and this demand disappear. Just a thought .

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  • Disappearing Doc

    Can we have GPs in the hospital kitchens too please? I keep hearing hospital food is crap, I'm sure that could be easily fixed with 1 or 2 GPs per kitchen (in hair nets obviously). They do most things hey, why not food?

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  • Disappearing Doc

    ...and I keep hearing about the shocking state of mental health services in the country..how about getting some GPs in to help out there too, give the psychiatrists a bit of a boost, again 1 or 2 for each clinic should help a little . Anyone else any ideas on struggling parts of the health service, or public services in general?.. let's get some GPs in there too. Marvellous , can see this becoming the next big thing . Why didn't they come up with this before. Marvellous

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  • Disappearing Doc

    ..just had a thought , how about they get some GPs in to help out General Practice...I keep reading that there aren't enough GPs and these guys are really struggling , much like the folk in a&e , how about they get some GPs in there too. A couple of GPs for each practice would help..yeah ..let's get some more GPs in to help out the GPs.

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  • When will the government learn I don't want to be an A&E SHO!!!? Forget it. People who turn up to A&E who can be managed by a GP should be sent to see their own! Not managed by one in A&E. This only compounds the problem.

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  • So 19% of GPs are 55 and will retire within 5 years. Last quarter saw 0.9% drop in GP numbers. Get used to it. There will be a regular drop of 1% GP workforce every quarter for the next 5 years. No - make that the next 10 years, as of course all those 50-55 will be coming through next. Of course it could be a lot worse should all those

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