The deputy chief executive of NHS England has blamed ‘poor general practice’ – especially in inner cities – for the increase in emergency admissions.
Dame Barbara Hakin told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee today that poor access to general practice would lead to a higher number of A&E attendances, but not necessarily admissions.
However, she also said that ‘poor general practice’ leads to ‘unnecessary and avoidable admissions’.
Answering a question from Meg Hillier, the Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, on the removal of the guarantee of an appointment within 48 hours, Dame Barbara said there was ‘no evidence’ it had led to increased emergency admissions.
She said: ‘I don’t think there is any evidence it has led to an increase in emergency admissions – if the general practice is poor, it will be other aspects of it rather than immediate access. Poor access will lead to more attendances at A&E.
However, she added that ‘poor general practice’ will lead to emergency admissions. ‘They don’t look after patients as well in the longer term, which can lead to unnecessary and avoidable admissions. We do know we need to make a big improvement in some places.
‘Lots of general practice is very good with good access. But in some places, the standard of general practice is too poor, the access of general practice is not immediate enough. It is quite often that that is in inner cities, in urban areas and of course that is where our hospitals are sited, so those patients unsurprisingly go to A&E.’