Conservative conference: GPs responsible for 24-hour care of vulnerable elderly from April

GPs in England will be responsible for the 24-hour care of the vulnerable elderly from April and will be their 'champion' in the health and social care system, health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative party conference.

Mr Hunt: ' ‘I have done the tea round in a Worthing ward; washed down emergency beds in Watford; answered the phone in a busy London GP surgery.'

My Hunt told delegates at the conference in Manchester on Tuesday that he wanted to ‘transform the care older people receive outside of hospital’ and ‘rediscover the ideal of family doctors’.

This would be done by boosting GP access and ‘giving GPs the time and space to care proactively for vulnerable older people on their lists, keeping tabs on them and helping them stay well longer’, he said.

The 2004 GP contract abolished named GPs he said, ‘destroying the personal link between patients and their GPs’.

‘So from next April we will be revising that mistake by introducing a named GP, responsible for proactive care for all vulnerable older people,’ he said.

‘Someone to be their champion in the integrated health and social care system that we will be implementing from April,’ he added.

‘Restoring the link between doctor and patient for millions. And joining up a system which has allowed too many people to fall between the cracks.’

My Hunt said he has learnt more from ‘rolling up his sleeves’ and ‘mucking in’ on the frontline, than he has ever found out ‘sitting behind a ministerial desk’ in his first year as health secretary.

He said:  ‘I have done the tea round in a Worthing ward; washed down emergency beds in Watford; answered the phone in a busy London GP surgery; even done a nursing round in Salford.’

He thanked NHS staff for their hard work and paid tribute to a Feltham GP in south west London who visited a terminally ill patient daily after he finished work at his practice.

He told delegates: ‘He went out of his way to visit the patient every day after he finished work. Then one day he arrived at the patent’s home and was upset to see he’d just died. So he decided to wash and clean him. As he told the patient’s wife: 'I want this man to go out of his home with dignity'.

‘To him that was just his job. To me, it’s the NHS. There for us and our families, no matter how old, how frail, how hard up. Treating everyone with dignity, respect and compassion.’

The CQC will be given statutory independence, Mr Hunt also announced, ‘so ministers can never again lean on it to suppress bad news’ after he attacked Labour for trying to cover up poor care when they were in power.

The new powers would mean that the CQC would no longer have to receive the health secretary’s approval to carry out an investigation into a hospital or care home. It will also remove the health secretary’s power to direct the CQC on the content of its annual report.

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