Exclusive: Budget A&E plans to force out-of-hours overhaul and run from temporary buildings

GPs could be poached from existing primary care providers to work in temporary buildings on hospital sites in new A&E triage schemes outlined in the budget, as services such as out-of-hours face a possible overhaul.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has made £100m of capital funding available to A&E hospital services to set up 100 GP triage systems ahead of next winter to help reduce waiting times.

Doctors’ leaders have warned the new services could deepen the crisis in the NHS by stretching the existing workforce and driving more patients to hospitals.

Mr Hammond told MPs in Wednesday’s budget speech that ‘onsite GP triage in A&E departments can have a significant and positive impact on A&E waiting times'.

GP workforce

GPonline has learned that after the £1m Treasury capital funding per A&E service has been spent, hospitals will be required to fund and staff the system from within existing resources and primary care services.

Local NHS organisations may be required to reconfigure existing GP services, such as out-of-hours, to support the new triage systems. Consortia of local GPs could also be asked to provide the service.

The £1m-per-scheme capital funding is expected to pay for temporary buildings or the reorganisation of existing space to house GPs alongside emergency departments to help improve patient flow and deal with non-urgent cases.

Primary care

The announcement was cautiously welcomed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine which said co-location of primary care around A&E would benefit patients.

But RCGP chair professor Helen Stokes Lampard said the best place for GPs was in their communities. 'GPs working in A&E units have been successful in some areas, but the decision to implement this must be based on local need’ she said. 

‘The government must realise that the most severe pressures in A&E are not simply down to inappropriate attendance but the inability to admit seriously unwell patients, and lack of capacity to discharge them into the community.’

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