DoH looking to GPs to lead elderly health checks plan

GPs, community health professionals and social workers will be encouraged to find and sup-port vulnerable elderly patients, as part of major new reforms to health and social care.

GPs will be the 'drivers' of services that pre-empt medical crises and proactively check on elderly patients, health secretary Andy Burnham has said.

Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPPs) will be rolled out across England after 29 pilots were hailed as a success.

The pilots cut A&E admissions by 29 per cent, improved elderly patients' care and saved trusts and local authorities cash.

The health secretary believes the existing health and social care workforce can deliver the service 'without a great deal of resources', although the pilot projects cost £60 million.

Mr Burnham said GPs may need to be pushed by the DoH as it had been tough to get GPs involved in the pilot schemes.

Many of the pilots involve GPs, community and social services working together to identify elderly patients at a particularly vulnerable stage. GPs create lists of patients they believe are vulnerable and direct specialist teams to visit them.

'It's not so difficult to spot people who have recently had a bereavement. That person really should receive more support in those few weeks afterwards to prevent them needing more services along the line,' said Mr Burnham.

GPs would be encouraged to bid to deliver such services through practice-based commissioning, he said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the GPC had not been approached about the initiative but would support it if the pilots and evidence-base were robust.

Practices must be reimbursed for any additional costs of the scheme, he said.

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