Editorial: Care plan template must keep it simple

Last month's unveiling of the 2014/15 new GMS contract deal left GPs asking about the workload implications of the new £160m DES for GPs proactively to manage vulnerable patients, with the aim of minimising emergency hospital admissions.

We look in depth at what is currently known about the implications of the new DES in this issue, on pages 23 and 24.

The funding is considerable - an average-sized practice can expect to receive about £22,000 - but as ever, the devil will be in the detail of the negotiations between the GPC and NHS Employers over the content of the standard national template for the care plans that NHS England will develop.

It's all very well for the coalition government to spin the 2014/15 settlement as a means of reducing bureaucracy when 38% of the QOF is cut, but the last thing general practice will want is for such unnecessarily burdensome paperwork to reappear in care plans for a minimum of 2% of the practice's most vulnerable patients.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey has the right idea when he describes his vision of a care plan template that is 'as simple and therefore as useful as possible'.

The contract changes due to come into force in April may, however, seem a relatively long time away as GPs contemplate this winter's pressures, which we consider on page six.

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul warns that too much attention on hospitals and A&E departments means that commissioners have overlooked the winter demands on primary care.

He urges CCGs to use the £150m of additional funding pledged by ministers for the NHS this winter 'to resource the whole system, not just downstream at the hospital end'.

Simple care plans for the most vulnerable patients could make a great deal of difference in 2014/15, but their effects will not be felt until next year at the earliest.

This year, GPs will be looking to their CCGs for funding to enable healthcare professionals in primary care to do the best job possible for their patients this winter.

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