GPs should be given cash incentives for seeing patients face to face, to alleviate demand on the NHS this winter, an MP has argued.
Otherwise, there’s a risk that more people will present at A&E because they can’t be seen in person, said Joy Morrissey, Conservative MP.
GPs seeing patients in person will also decrease hospital admissions and lead to earlier diagnosis for disease, she added.
‘Certain things cannot be seen unless a person’s vitals—their [blood] pressure—can be physically checked. Only a GP can do that and really only in person,’ she said.
Ms Morrissey suggested that GPs could receive a payment every time they see a patient in person, or visit a patient in their home.
These incentives could be funded from existing regional funding streams, she said.
Unlike hospitals, which get paid based on activity, GPs are paid a set sum based on the number of patients on their list.
However, England’s CCGs distribute the NHS’s budget to GPs locally, and can offer surgeries financial incentives for enhanced services.
Earlier this month the Government put forward a £250m ‘winter access fund’ for GP practices to hire more staff, on the condition they increase the number of patients they see in person.
The BMA said at the time it was ‘disappointing to see that there is no end in sight to the preoccupation with face-to-face appointments’.
Meanwhile, health secretary Sajid Javid has said the Government ‘never planned’ to have league tables for GP practices, but confirmed it will publish practice-level data, including the proportion of face-to-face appointments.
In 2019, CCGs received criticism for offering cash incentives for GPs to cut referrals to hospitals.