GPC rejects Jeremy Hunt's NHS crisis plan for GPs to support urgent care

GP leaders have dismissed government proposals to use GPs to support under-pressure urgent care services, and warned that any plans to suspend the QOF could leave practices facing cashflow problems.

Dr Richard Vautrey (Photo: Solent News)
Dr Richard Vautrey (Photo: Solent News)

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey warned that reported plans to extend the QOF submission deadline by a month would exacerbate pressure on general practice by creating delays to practice payments.

The RCGP has called on Jeremy Hunt to suspend QOF targets as well as revalidation and CQC inspections to allow GPs to focus on patient care.

The health secretary told the House of Commons on Monday in an urgent statement on NHS winter pressures that GPs could be used to support urgent care work in 'distressed' NHS systems.

GP workload

Reports in The Guardian suggested that Mr Hunt would announce an extension of the QOF reporting period by a month to the end of April to release GP time. But that announcement was not included in the health secretary's Commons statement.

Mr Hunt said that NHS leaders would consider measures to temporarily release GP time to support urgent care work and continue the suspension of elective care. Earlier Mr Hunt said said that seven-day GP services and putting more GPs in care homes could be part of the solution to the crisis in hospitals.

Dr Vautrey said that the government's plans failed to recognise that general practice was under ‘the same if not more pressure than other parts of the health service’

The GPC had been warning about the crisis facing the service for months, or even years, said Dr Vautrey, ‘so this current situation was wholly predictable and avoidable’.

GP funding

‘GPs and their teams are working incredibly hard to maintain a service to their patients and if anything they need more help to do this, with sustainable funding to increase workforce capacity, not short-term fixes that don't solve the underlying problem.’

He added: ‘It's hard to see what GPs or their staff could stop in order to do more work elsewhere and extending the deadline for QOF submission would make matters worse not better, adding a delay in essential practice payments which are vital for struggling practices trying to balance the books.

‘It's also not clear what evidence there is that GPs working in A&E solves the problem, as the reason patients are on trolleys waiting to be admitted is that are aren't enough hospital beds or sufficient social care capacity in the community to enable discharge of increasingly frail and vulnerable patients.’

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