The proposal is being considered as part of his follow-up report to the primary care White Paper published a year ago which said some hospital services could be delivered better as part of primary care.
Speaking to GP, Dr Colin-Thomé said GPs would not be forced to carry out post-operative checks: ‘They wouldn’t be expected to take on anything if they didn’t want to.’
A quarter of the 31.5 million follow-up appointments paid for each year by the NHS could be performed by GPs, he said.
However, this would mean that responsibility for any missed post-operative problems would become the responsibility of GPs. GPs will only have to check that elective surgery, such as removal of varicose veins or hernias, has gone well, said Dr Colin-Thomé.
Check-ups after complicated procedures including those for heart problems or cancer would remain the responsibility of surgeons. Elective surgery patients who are in pain or have concerns about their recovery often consult their GP anyway, added Dr Colin-Thomé.
‘Why bother with specialists when we’re doing this already?’ he asked.
Hospitals could also provide elective surgery patients with information leaflets on discharge explaining what to expect after their operation and any signs that recovery is troubled, he suggested.
Dr Colin-Thomé maintained that post-operative checks in the GP surgery would be cost effective if funded through local enhanced services or by money diverted through practice-based commissioning (PBC).
But GP leaders have raised concerns that practices would struggle to find capacity and funding to provide this service (GP, 12 January).
GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden has previously dismissed suggestions that there is surplus funding to pay for post-operative checks through PBC.