Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new programme aimed at moving more patient services to GP practices from hospital.
Mr Hunt said that under his ‘GP one-stop programme’, the NHS will be going through ‘condition by condition’ to see which can be handled in general practice rather than secondary care going forward.
Mr Hunt said that the NHS has to ’get back to basics and think how many issues and problems could actually be solved with a visit to a general practice’ rather than ‘sending someone to the back of another queue’.
Speaking at the Best Practice conference in Birmingham today, he said: ’I think it is quite sobering to note that the entire outpatient budget for hospitals is around the same as the entire general practice budget.
’[But] I think as far as patients are concerned they would much prefer it if a lot of those problems were sorted out inside general practice.’
Mr Hunt said his plan would include a range of conditions, such as for example diabetes.
He said: ’So you will be hearing more about what I am calling “the GP one-stop programme”, looking at areas like diabetes, end-stage renal, and many others.
’We are going to go through, situation by situation, condition by condition, and ask what barriers we can remove centrally to allow more of this work to happen in general practice.’
He admitted that this meant asking GPs to ‘do more work’ but said that they would be ‘paid for doing that’ and argued that it would also ‘make life more rewarding for doctors’.
And, aside from being more satisfying for GPs, Mr Hunt said the model will allow patients to be seen more quickly.
He said: ’It’s not just that it’s better for patients, because they’ll get the care they need more quickly, but also its part of making the process of making life more rewarding for doctors, because it think the last thing a doctor wants to do is send someone home without having sorted out the problem.’
But he added that the Department of Health was looking at how it would fund this shift in workload.
He said: ‘That means looking at payment systems.
’Because we are asking GPs and practices to do more work, they need to be paid for doing that. It also means removing some of the inflexibilities.’
The news comes as NHS England is in the process of developing a new voluntary GP contract for large-scale multidisciplinary GP practices with 30,000 or more patients, which aims for practices to employ a wider range of healthcare staff.
But it also comes as the GPC has been successful in convincing NHS leaders to amend hospital contracts to stop ‘workload dump’ from secondary care colleagues, amid unprecedented pressure on GP practices.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’
Many practices and GPs already do this, caring for the vast majority of their diabetic patients. However this shifted work is not matched and supported by shifted resources and moving funding to make such services sustainable is what is really needed.’