Francis proposals must not trigger unnecessary work, GPs warn

Forcing practices to book appointments to check on patients after every hospital visit would be a 'foolish' response to the Francis inquiry, GP leaders have warned.

Dr Richard Vautrey: don't force GP visits after hospital care
Dr Richard Vautrey: don't force GP visits after hospital care

Robert Francis QC’s report on the findings of the public inquiry into failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust recommended that GPs should monitor all NHS care their patients receive.

The profession should act as ‘an independent, professionally qualified check on the quality of service’ patients receive, the report advised.

The report says: ‘GPs should, as a part of their professional obligations, check on their patient after hospital treatment and assess whether the outcomes were satisfactory.’

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey agreed GPs should act as patient advocates, and follow up on care they receive.

‘The softer information about how a patient was cared for – whether they were fed, taken to the loo at the right time – that information is not in discharge letters,’ he said. ‘It can only come from direct discussions.’

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada too has said that many GPs already acknowledge their ‘obligation to patients once they have been referred’.

But Dr Vautrey warned that the government must not impose a requirement for practices to book appointments to check up on every patient who has visited hospital.

‘Practices are under significant workload pressure already. While it is appropriate for those discussions to take place at some point, I would not want a requirement for GPs to make appointments for those discussions when there is no clinical need to do so.

‘It would be foolish to suggest we should be reviewing every patient after a visit to hospital. We need to empower patients to come to their GP if there is a problem, not place an additional burden on GPs.’

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