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GPs ‘need better access to consultants’

By Alisdair Stirling

GP leaders have called for easier access to hospital consultants, after the Academy of Medical Colleges launched a new inquiry into the future of consultant care.

The Academy has issued a call for evidence to member colleges asking for views and examples on the benefits of consultant-delivered care and the changes needed and difficulties involved in having medical care delivered primarily by consultants.

The GPC has passed a motion to contribute to the inquiry at a meeting last week and one prominent member says she will be pressing for better access to consultants for GPs.
GPC member Dr Helena McKeown said: 'As GPs we are increasingly being asked to do things by non-medical staff. I'm all for the skill mix but it has been taken too far.'

'We are being asked to do inappropriate things - for example GPs are reporting being asked to prescribe methadone by a drug and alcohol service. If you refuse, people think you are insulting them.'

'If we carry on like this, we´ll have another form of two tierism with private patients getting access to consultants and NHS patients seeing the nurse or the social worker.'

A statement from the Academy said: 'There are real benefits in medical care delivered by trained doctors who have a Certificate of Completion of Training or Certificate of Eligibility of Specialist Registration but with increasing numbers of doctors coming through training, and in the current financial climate, the debate about whether the NHS can or should afford this model of care is increasingly important.'

'Our focus is therefore on issues of outcome, quality and productivity with the emphasis on the service that patients should rightfully expect. We recognise that this may require changes in the way that services are delivered and consultants currently work.

'The Academy's consultation closes on 6 May 2011.

GPs 'need better access to consultants'