GPs slam 'named clinician' plans ahead of key Hunt speech

Jeremy Hunt's plans to make named GPs responsible for patients' health and social care around the clock are 'unworkable', GP leaders warned ahead of a speech by the health secretary today.

Jeremy Hunt: vision for 24/7 GP role questioned
Jeremy Hunt: vision for 24/7 GP role questioned

The health secretary will speak at a King's Fund conference on the future of primary care on Thursday, and could set out further detail of how he plans to alter GPs' role.

But GP leaders called for stability for the profession and investment to tackle rising workload and falling resources.

Earlier this week Mr Hunt  revealed ‘radical’ plans to to improve care for elderly and vulnerable people and reduce pressure on emergency departments. He said fundamental change would mean joined-up care spanning primary care, social care, and A&E, overseen by a named GP.

‘In the long term, I want a 24/7 service which recognises patients as individuals and looks out for them proactively. Starting with our most vulnerable, this government is going to support the NHS in doing exactly that.’

Senior GPs from the National Association of Primary Care, NHS Alliance and Family Doctor Association have welcomed the government’s efforts to help patients have ‘a personal and continuing relationship with a named GP’.

They called for a reduction in ‘tick-box’ QOF targets to free up GP time. Better continuity of care would be more cost effective and benefit patients, but would require an ‘oft spoken of but long awaited shift in resources from secondary to primary care’, they said.

But ahead of the speech on Thursday, GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall told GP that the health secretary's proposals were unworkable, and 'based on a 1950s view of general practice'.

NHS Alliance GMS/PMS contract lead Dr David Jenner warned that if GPs were expected to be responsible for patients' care across health and social care, they would need 'authority' over social care staff and budgets.

'I don't see that happening,' he said. Dr Jenner added: 'What general practice needs to take on this extra responsibility is a period of stable funding.'

He added that even good ideas 'without detailed implementation and little consultation with the profession had a long track record of ending up on the scrap heap'.

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