Primary care access targets scrapped

Access targets in primary care are to be scrapped as the government looks to boost efficiency savings, a revised NHS operating framework reveals.

Dr Vautrey: 'Most of the resources for access are tied up in the QOF, so there is an opportunity to utilise the resources in a sensible way'
Dr Vautrey: 'Most of the resources for access are tied up in the QOF, so there is an opportunity to utilise the resources in a sensible way'

The DoH also outlined a more flexible approach to extended hours targets, which will 'not be dictated from Westminster or Whitehall'.

A spokeswoman said: 'Our responsibilities are to set the outcomes to be delivered and empower GPs and other health professionals themselves to work out how best to achieve this.'

The revision to the 2010/11 NHS Operating Framework reiterates that PCTs should consult GPs over community services reforms and plans to make hospitals responsible for patient care after discharge.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said he wanted to free the NHS from bureaucracy and targets that have no clinical justification, and move to a system which measures its performance on patient outcomes.

While the NHS will no longer be accountable to the DoH for its performance, it will be 'very much accountable' to patients and the public, he said.

Mr Lansley said: 'Doctors will be free to focus on the outcomes that matter - providing quality patient care.

'Patients will still be entitled to rights under the NHS Constitution and the quality of their experiences and outcomes are what will drive improvements in the future.'

Dr Richard Vautrey said he was pleased that 'common sense has prevailed', and suggested the freed-up money could be used to introduce a 'more balanced and holistic' patient survey.

'Most of the resources for access are tied up in the QOF, so there is an opportunity to utilise the resource in a sensible way,' he said.

'One way would be to consider a return to the previous patient survey, which asked patients about the service they received right from front door to the consultation.'

The revised framework also highlighted that separating PCT commissioning from the provision of services remains a priority for the DoH.

It outlined that PCTs should continue to develop proposals for this agenda, but said future models for community service provision shoud be tested with GP commissioners and local authorities.

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