'Pay GPs to do post-op checks'

GP leaders will consider DoH proposals for GPs to carry out post-operative check-ups, but only if they are paid for the service and resources are freed up.

DoH primary care czar, Dr David Colin-Thomé, is working on a White Paper follow-up report looking at hospital services that could be better delivered in primary care.

One proposal he is considering is making GPs do the post operation check-ups currently carried out by surgeons.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said that it was possible that such a service could be delivered as a national enhanced service, but currently GPs do not have ‘the time resources or space to do this’.

‘My capacity is nearly 100 per cent now, so what does he want us to stop doing?’ he said.

He added that the idea would also take away a valuable learning tool from surgeons because post-operative check-ups help them to assess how they did as well as see how the patient is getting on.

RCGP chairman Professor Mayur Lakhani said it would look carefully at the proposals.

‘Some follow-up, particularly after complex surgery, will always be necessary,’ he said. ‘But there is no doubt that some hospital follow-up appointments are not necessary, and some patients present to their GP after being discharged from hospital.’

He thought that practice-based commissioning (PBC) could be the ‘driver’ to make it happen.

Dr Holden was not sure that PBC should be used and said: ‘It’s all very well saying that we can do these things through PBC as well, but you have to create the surplus first because I would not have the space or resources to do it now.’

Dr Colin-Thomé has defended his proposals saying that at present ‘we are wasting consultants’ precious time and expertise’.

‘We are finding that most patients who are concerned about their recovery actually contact their GP within two weeks anyway,’ he said.

He also hinted at the possible use of PBC budgets as the way to do this.

The DoH proposals come as a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has found that patients who are kept in hospital longer than necessary are using 13,000 extra NHS beds every year costing around £975 million.

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