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RCGP will support Labour’s plans for care integration

The RCGP will support Labour Party plans for health and social care integration while lobbying the party to invest more in general practice should it win the next general election, it has said.

The opposition party met college representatives over the summer to discuss its plans for full integration of health and social care, including joint budgets that could be controlled by health and wellbeing boards.

The RCGP said it supported the plans for integrated, whole person care but it also pushed Labour to support its ‘fairer spending’ campaign, which calls for 10% extra funding for general practice to enable the training of more GPs and for GPs to be able to offer longer consultations to patients.

The college’s stance on Labour’s plans appeared significantly more positive than that of the BMA, rejected the proposals on the basis that they may lead to the defunding of healthcare.

The RCGP first lobbied the party in a roundtable discussion - attended by shadow health minister Andy Burnham and shadow minister for care and older people Liz Kendall - at the end of June, and it is due to meet Sir John Oldham, the GP who is leading a major review to inform Labour’s health policies going forward.

Commenting on the roundtable discussion, an RCGP spokesperson said: ‘The key message was that the RCGP supports integration of care and has undertaken significant policy work in this area. We also support the idea of wholeperson care and believe that GPs will be vital in achieving this and leading this, using their skills as expert medical generalists to deliver holistic care in the community.

‘The other key message was to advocate the college’s campaign for fairer spending in general practice, specifically that we need more GPs, spending more time in consultation with complex patients in order to make integration of care a reality.’

However, RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said that full integration is a ‘complex’ issue and therefore the first step should be to integrate primary, secondary, community and mental health care, before adding social care to the mix.

She said: ‘What we need first is integration across primary and secondary care and better collaboration and cooperation and where possible joint budgets for primary, secondary, community and mental health with new provider led organisations - building on RCGP federations.’