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New funding for 24-hour care for the frail and elderly ‘unlikely’, says health minister

It is unlikely there will be any new funding in the GP contract to fund GPs co-ordinating 24-hour care of the frail and elderly, a health minister has confirmed.

Earlier this month health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the GP contract will change to include a responsibility for practices to provide a ‘named GP’ responsible for co-ordinating all the out-of-hospital care for vulnerable older people from next year.

But health minister Dr Dan Poulter, said there was unlikely to be any new money in next year’s GP contract to fund this work.

He said: ‘It’s unlikely there’ll be any new money in the GP contract for that. I think with the GP contract it’s about how the money is used. As the contract works through money will be used in different ways. There’s outcome-based measures, which is the process we’ve started already with this year’s contract negotiations.’

He added that looking at GPs working hours would be a priority for Professor Steve Field, the new chief inspector of primary care.

He said: ‘I’m a hospital doctor as you know and there is a challenge there. Hospital doctors work evenings. We’ve got to look at [GPs’] working hours. Steve Field said what does good care look like in terms of providing care. And he will have a role in that as chief inspector of general practice. It’s about how we focus resources on vulnerable old people.’

Professor Field said yesterday that he would ‘not hesitate at all’ to order the closure of GP practices that provides poor access.