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GPs could provide 24-hour care for the frail and elderly, says RCGP chair

GPs practices could provide 24-hour care for frail and elderly patients both – in and out of hospital – if given additional funding, the chair of the RCGP has said.

RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada told the London Assembly’s Health Committee that practices could be tasked with putting together ‘micro teams’ to free up time to deal with patients ‘proactively’.

Professor Gerada has recently been appointed as an appointed clinical chair for primary care transformation in London, charged with improving primary care services alongside London mayor Boris Johnson. She told Pulse that the role will see her tackle a range of ‘thorny’ issues – including the controversial question of whether GPs should retain their independent contractor status.

At a meeting discussing the rising pressures in London’s accident and emergency departments, Professor Gerada argued that investment in primary care-rather than propping up hospitals would help solve the crisis.

Professor Gerada said: [Given the funding] We can do a lot. There’s a whole series of things we can do better. One is we can improve continuity of care for those that require it, particularly the frail and elderly, we can risk stratify and find those patients.

‘I think we need to be providing 24 hour care for those patients in and out of hospital and in and out of hours. We can put together micro teams, to free up the time to deal with those patients proactively.’

She added: ‘We also need to be investing in and encouraging self-management for patients. There are a whole range of things that if we had the time we could use; e-templates, podcasts, we can start targeting those 29-year-old patients who don’t need to be in hospital.

‘We also need to be helping children. On a Monday afternoon A&E is almost like a playgroup, we need to be targeting those with better bespoke surgeries. At the moment we can’t do anything, at the moment we can barely get through a day’s work without being exhausted so that’s what we’d start to do given the money.’

Earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said lack of capacity in general practice and out-of-hours services were to blame for rising A&E attendances and overburdened emergency departments, a view which the Labour leader Ed Miliband said he opposed at the party’s conference this week.