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Give patients ‘right’ to see GP within seven days, says think tank

Give patients ‘right’ to see GP within seven days, says think tank

Patients should be given a new constitutional ‘right’ to see a GP within seven days, or be redirected elsewhere for a remote appointment, a think tank has proposed.

Conservative think tank the Policy Exchange listed the proposal among priorities for the UK’s next Prime Minister, set to be appointed on Monday.

Its report said this comes as ‘consumers of healthcare are increasingly expectant of a service which offers choices to suit their lifestyles – hence demands a shift towards personalised care’.

‘A new national commitment within the NHS Constitution to emphasise that patients have the right to be offered an appointment with a primary care healthcare professional within seven days would signal that the new administration will focus on the things that matter most to patients,’ the report said.

Under the proposals, patients in under-doctored areas ‘will be offered the choice of an appointment with GPs or other primary care healthcare professionals based in neighbouring ICS geographies to meet the seven-day offer, using telephony or video consultation’.

‘Evidence shows that only a minority of patient requests for care stated a preference for in-person face-to-face consultation,’ the think tank added.

The report said that this commitment would require ‘seamless transfer of the patient record across primary care, and new reimbursement approaches to allow for neighbouring-area providers to reimburse for consultations’.

The think tank, which yesterday hosted a high-profile speech by health secretary Steve Barclay, also believes that ‘the Government should expand the role of community pharmacies in delivering appropriate services to patients, to free up GPs to focus on wider clinical care’.

It suggested this could include vaccinations, as the Covid vaccination campaign showed pharmacies were ‘a viable setting for activities such as immunisations’.

Enhanced cooperation would be best achieved through a locally negotiated contract, which brings together qualified providers ­– general practice, pharmacy and local authorities – to collaborate rather compete against each other, the report said.

NHS England recently invited GPs to share their views on plans for a new national vaccination strategy, saying it expects Covid jabs to become a ‘seasonal service’.

Other Policy Exchange suggestions for stabilising primary care in the short term include the launch of a re-entry scheme to encourage retired GPs and nurses back into the workforce.

This week, the Government launched a consultation into extending NHS pension scheme changes that made it easier for retired GPs to return to work during the pandemic.

The think tank’s report also called for reform of NHS pension rules and their relationship with consumer price inflation.

It said that changes to the interrelationship between consumer price index (CPI) and the annual allowance (AA) for public sector pensions could address the problem of GPs seeking early retirement.

And it recommended that the new PM commissions an independent review of NHS pensions and their interactions with taxation policy. The review should commence in 2022 and report by January 2023 to inform the Spring Statement.

The think tank also recommended that action is taken to ‘transform’ the role of general practice within primary care.

It proposed a 10-year transition for general practice by introducing a new scaled model of integrated primary care in which workforce planning, estates development, data analytics and change management are supported by ICSs.

Relationship-based medicine and ‘continuity of care’ at practice-level should be supported through the growth of ‘integrated neighbourhood teams’ as envisaged in the Fuller Report, said the plan.

It said disparities, such as under-doctored areas, could be addressed by making contracting a more local process, with provider contracts negotiated and held with the relevant ICB.

These changes should be accompanied by ‘an improved and unified access route to primary care services called NHS Gateway, with standards and oversight from NHS England, but delivered and coordinated at system level’, said the report.  

Earlier this week, a major Pulse investigation revealed that 474 GP surgeries across the UK have closed in the past nine years without being replaced, with small practices on lower funding in more deprived areas most likely to be affected.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 2 September, 2022 5:22 pm

Try it. The profession dares you to.
And it will refer every patient to hospital as a consequence you “empower” and give “rights” to and crash your entire system within 1 month. GPs can promise things too at their end you know. Patients have rights to hospitals you know.

Rogue 1 2 September, 2022 5:38 pm

Yes, in the same breath let them have the right to a hospital appointment within 7days.
Same should apply to scopes, scans and other out patient investigations then. We cant even get an xray within that time frame.
It looks like the ‘Think Tank’ wasn’t really thinking properly when it came up with that 🙂

John Glasspool 2 September, 2022 6:08 pm

“Think Tank”- Cockney Rhyming Slang.

David Banner 2 September, 2022 6:16 pm

Great stuff, all we need now is a doubling of GP numbers and a huge injection of public cash. What’s that? No GPs and no cash? Oh, so you’re just talking bo****ks then? Move on, folks, nothing to see here.

Turn out The Lights 2 September, 2022 7:55 pm

The Tories are full of think tankers spot on John G.This must be a result of one of their”parties”.

Darren Tymens 2 September, 2022 8:48 pm

We will see everyone who wants to be seen on the same day, they ask – as long as you give us the funding, the staff and the estates to deliver that.
Quadrupling the investment in general practice should do it.
Wait, you don’t want to do that? Then how exactly do you expect this to be delivered? Remote consultations in neighbouring ICSs? I doubt the GPs there are all sat by their phones doing nothing.
Could it be possible that Think Tanks are staffed by idiots fresh out of University who are ideologically driven and don’t know anything about the areas they offer their opinion on?
And the ten-year transition… into what exactly?
The real problem here is that there are politicians who are equally ignorant who will think it all sounds like a good idea.

Dylan Summers 3 September, 2022 9:35 am

Ha ha hee hee tee hee whoops!

Love it. Comedy gold, keep it coming Policy Exchange. You’ve missed this year’s Edinburgh Fringe but you should hire yourselves a venue for next year.

Don’t stop the magic!


Keith M Laycock 5 September, 2022 3:52 pm

A Think Tank bereft of practical thought.

Embarrassingly naive to the actual reality of a demand-and-supply paradigm.

While seemingly still believing that the NHS is a ‘national treasure’, the Ivory Towers seem intent on it’s demolition and determined to reduce it to rubble.

Nicola Williams 8 September, 2022 12:31 pm

” expectant of a service which offers choices to suit their lifestyle ” – that’s called private healthcare and the patient can pay for that anytime . they just don’t want to
” evidence shows only a minority of patients want a F2F appointment ” not what the wonderful daily mail have been shouting for the past 2 years which the government colluded with
absolute rubbish