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GP leaders call for the return of intermediary care centres

GP leaders have argued for the return of intermediary care centres, to allow GPs to admit patients for simple interventions and help curb rising A&E use.

Following a meeting of the London Assembly’s health committee, Dr Onkar Sahota, the committee’s chair and a GP in Hanwell, west London, said that intermediary care centres could ease the pressure on hospitals.

He said: ‘[What we need is] Intermediary beds, a step down from the hospitals, where GPs can admit patients for short sharp interventions.’

He added that the whole system needed to be reconfigured with more of the overall NHS budget allocated to primary care, as any short term  would only act like a ‘sticking plaster’.

He said: ‘Whatever proposed in the winter months will be a sticking plaster. We need to look at structurally how healthcare is structure in London and in the wider NHS.’

Speaking at the health committee meeting, RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada also called for the return of ‘step-down services’ such  as intermediary care centres.

She said: ‘When I started in general practice there was something called the Tomlinson review. The Tomlinson review recommended intermediary care centers, intermediary care hospitals. And we had two in Lambeth, we’ve now got one because it was shut.

‘What they were was low threshold, GP-run services. We had access to beds, we had access to diagnostics, we could admit people for the day just to have IV antibiotics, for example, assess people for the day. It was co-located with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dentistry, social  workers and general practice. And then they were all shut and we lost a valuable report, able to deal with not hyper acute but certainly acute elderly patients.’

The RCGP chair also said at the meeting that GPs practices could provide 24-hour care for frail and elderly patients both - in and out of hospital - if given additional funding.