DoH to review GP practices' efficiency

The DoH is to review the potential for cost savings in GP practices after a report called for them to share 'airline check-in'-style appointment systems.

The report by the NHS Confederation’s Foundation Trust Network, commissioned by the DoH, suggests regional and national GP appointment centres could generate substantial savings.

‘The majority of GP practices have dedicated administrative support teams, often undertaking identical tasks, including the organisation and booking of patient appointments,’ the report says. ‘This system should be radically re-engineered.’

It calls for the DoH to lead a review of practices’ back office functions and to report back by September 2011.

A DoH spokesperson confirmed this would go ahead, despite the government distancing itself from the report.

At the NHS Alliance conference in Bournemouth last week, health minister Lord Howe dismissed claims that tens of thousands of receptionists faced redundancy. ‘Take it from me that the government is planning no such thing,’ he said.

NHS Alliance GMS/PMS lead Dr David Jenner warned that the DoH would take the report into account as it demanded efficiency savings from practices in future rounds of contract negotiations.

But he added that the current government would not micromanage GPs by imposing a specific cost-saving scheme.

A DoH spokesperson said: ‘It is entirely up to the local NHS to decide how to provide the best possible services for their local communities.’

The GPC rejected the suggestion that practice receptionists could be replaced by call centres as ‘nonsensical’.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman a single-hander in London, said: ‘Patients register with my practice exactly because it’s not a shared model.’

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It demonstrates that those who dreamt this up have no idea how general practice works.’

The report said the health service could save up to £600m by reorganising how NHS management and providers shared administrative staff.

Savings PCTs generate from share administration should be translated into the management allocations for GP consortia, and consortia should be audited to show that they do not exceed specific cash limits on management spending, the report added.

Editor's blog: Should call centres replace GP practice receptionists?

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:


Just published

Mobile phone

GPs urge caution over plan for NHS health checks to go digital

GP leaders have warned that changes to the NHS health checks programme must be evidence-based...

Debbie Boughtflower

How career coaching can transform the lives of veterans

GPs across England and Wales can refer patients who used to work in the armed forces...

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne

RCGP raises 'major concerns' over practice-level appointments data

The RCGP has written to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay warning that...

Labour shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting

GPs condemn 'ignorant' Labour rhetoric over access to appointments

Doctors' leaders have accused the Labour party of 'demonising' GPs after it claimed...

coins

Government NHS pension reform plans 'too little too late', warns BMA

Government plans to boost retention of doctors through reforms to the NHS pension...

Child in bed with a fever

GPs told to have 'low threshold' for prescribing antibiotics in possible strep A cases

GPs have been urged to have a 'low threshold' for prescribing antibiotics and hospital...