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Hunt to announce new 'rigorous' inspection regime for GP practices to improve patient care

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce a new ‘rigorous’ inspection regime of GP practices this week, with the appointment of a new chief inspector of primary care to raise standards the Department of Health has revealed.

According to a briefing ahead of the speech, the DH said that Mr Hunt would announce a move away from the ‘box-ticking culture’ in the NHS and a return to the idea of the ‘family doctor’ so that patients know who is untimately responsible for their care.

He will say that one of the reasons for the recent pressure on A&E departments is because patients are going to A&E because there is no ‘credible alternative’. 

He will add that a new ‘rigorous’ system of inspection will be introduced to see the focus put firmly back on whether GP practices are providing effective and responsive care for all. A new chief inspector of general practice will be appointed to make sure this happens.

He will add that he wants a similar situation as in hospitals where a named doctor is responsible for the care provided at all times, and that they are clear the ‘buck’ stops with them.

Mr Hunt will say: ‘As a member of the public, I want to know my GP. And I want my GP to be someone that knows me and my family.

‘Yet we’ve turned GP practices into places where it’s a daily challenge for receptionists to cope with huge call volumes and GPs to get through to all the people they need to see.’

The Daily Mail also quotes the health secretary saying: ‘Everyone agrees that hospitals should only be a last resort for the frail elderly and that – for someone perhaps with dementia and other complex conditions – A&E departments can be extremely confusing places.

‘But what alternatives do we offer? GP surgeries where it is often impossible to get an appointment the next day; same day appointments but only if you call at 8 o’clock in the morning sharp and are lucky getting through; long waits on the phone to get through, sometimes at premium rates; difficulty in registering with another practice if you move home, or aren’t happy with the service you are receiving; out-of-hours services where you speak to a doctor who doesn’t know you from Adam and has no access to your medical record.’

It comes after Mr Hunt gave his clearest indication yet that he expects GPs to take back responsibility for running out-of-hours services.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Show yesterday, Mr Hunt said: ‘I think we need to go back to GPs having responsibility for making sure that for the people on their list there is a good service available.’

Deputy GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he was waiting to hear details of how the new inspection regime would work.

He told Pulse: ‘It is essential that they will take a reasonable, pragmatic and proportionate approach to general practice inspections and regulation, understanding that we are not working in a sterilised operating theatre but a consultation room that mother’s regularly wheel prams in to.

‘In addition any attempt to introduce simplistic summary scores for general practice will not help inform patients about the quality of care we offer. We provide a complex service and this cannot be boiled down in to a simplistic and superficial judgement.’ Click here to read Dr Vautrey’s full comments.

RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said that the college supported any plans to promote better quality in general practice.

She said: ‘[We] are open to working with the Government and the CQC to devise a system that is going to create the right incentives to improve standards, including whether there is a case for introducing a chief inspector of primary care. But this must be done without adding to bureaucracy or creating a crude system of overall ratings for GP practices.’

‘Rumours of Ofsted-style inspections and tougher regulation are unhelpful and extremely demoralising, especially at a time when GPs are already heaving under the pressure of a bureaucratic and stifling tick box culture.’

 

Readers' comments (35)

  • this is the tory agenda and always has been make working conditions intolerable and slash income,they think doctors have nowhere else to go but they do,the only effective response is mass resignation from the NHS at a date set in the future election day for example

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  • "Yet we’ve turned GP practices into places where it’s a daily challenge for receptionists to cope with huge call volumes and GPs to get through to all the people they need to see." - In that statement my Hunt he must acknowledge it is their fault and not ours!!!

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  • David Bush

    I quite agree. Mr Hunt is taking responsibility (on behalf of successive governments) for taking general practice to the brink of collapse through increases in workload and squeezing of resources, but announces that the solution is to employ an inspector with a rigorous inspection regime. This rather conjures up images of the enormous man with a large whip who drove on the slaves as they rowed the Roman galleys into battle.

    My analysis...
    Problem: too much demand, poor resources
    Solution: more GP's, staff and improved premises

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  • David Bush

    P.S.
    I have no difficulty with GP's being responsible for providing a first class primary care service. After all we have the track record of achieving every target that has ever been laid at our door, and we are by far the most cost effective sector of the NHS. But if you want a world class service this will require investment. There is no other way.

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  • I agree with both of the above. He is accepting that "they" have caused changes in general practice which are bad for patients and GPs. I for one would be delighted if he would steer the ship back to better waters.
    However, who are " they"?
    They are civil servants in the DOH and a certain gentleman called Nicholson. They are also the people who only last month forced a unilateral contract change which is the worst example of tick box culture we have ever seen.
    If he said " lets sit down together and discuss how we can improve things" perhaps we would get somewhere.
    After the contract imposition I am not hopeful.
    Add to this the requirement for " competition" and general practice is doomed. Competition for all services that private providers find profitable, imposition on the mugs for those that they don't.
    Patient choice for everyone except if it does not fit the imposed protocol, in which case blame your GP.
    There has to be accountability for the people who caused this mess, and it starts at the DOH. Where is their vigorous Inspection?

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  • "It comes after Mr Hunt gave his clearest indication yet that he expects GPs to take back responsibility for running out-of-hours services."
    Great, the final nail in the coffin. I give notice of my resignation on 31/3/15 (when the old pension ends, and removes any remaining incentive for working extremely stressful 12 hour days).
    Vote with your feet guys.

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  • "It comes after Mr Hunt gave his clearest indication yet that he expects GPs to take back responsibility for running out-of-hours services."
    Great, the final nail in the coffin. I give notice of my resignation on 31/3/15 (when the old pension ends, and removes any remaining incentive for working extremely stressful 12 hour days).
    Vote with your feet guys.

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  • Over the last 4 years resources going into primary care have decreased as a percentage of the NHS budget and the GP share has plummeted.
    If this goverment wants our co-operation they will have to do better than beat us with a stick.
    Has Jeremy Hunt forgotten that we need some carrots as well?
    I look forward to just over 12 months time when I start drawing my pension - what a sad state of affairs.

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  • Dear Mr Hunt

    This week and on a regular basis I have told patients that the intervention they want will not be offered because there is no clinical evidence that it will make people live longer or healthier lives. I justify this be telling them that the NHS has a duty to only fund interventions that prove a beneficial outcome.

    Sometimes I tell a patient that the intervention is beneficial but will not be funded because the benefit is marginal in relation to the costs involved

    I have yet to see a clinical trial demonstrating the benefit and cost effectiveness of this intervention in terms of people living longer or healthier lives. In such a circumstance I put it to you that this is a waste of money and perhaps bordering on the completely unethical practice of using public (NHS) money for political gain.

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  • What's the saying about constantly weighing the pig doesn't produce the best bacon?
    My partner was told that he was harder to see than the Queen! I'm not certain that this is true but Mr Hunt needs to tackle demand. The buck stopping with the GP is fine if the service or need required is of a GP and their skills. Such as a patient that refused flatly to see a nurse for ear wax and got a GP appointment! This is part of the problem Giving people what they want wins votes and is popular, giving them what they need is right and proper. The public expect too much from too little but no one will stand up and tell them that. I'm 45 and will take my vastly reduced pension at 50 and find other work, as it wont be worth proping up the ponzi scheme that the pension is and I can go and work where I'm valued properly as I've had enough of 12-14 hour days and being accused of being rich and lazy.

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