GPC slams 'airline-style' appointment centre plans

The GPC has slammed 'nonsensical' proposals in a DoH-commissioned report to move consultation booking to national call centres.

The DoH report suggested that GP administrative support teams could be re-engineered into national call centres

A report issued this week by Foundation Trust Network said the NHS could save £600m by moving appointment booking to ‘regional or national GP appointment centres’.

At a media briefing, the GPC dismissed the plans as having ‘no validity’ and said the system would put a barrier between patients and their GPs.The committee said the idea would probably increase NHS costs, rather than make savings as suggested.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It demonstrates that those who dreamt this up have no idea how general practice works.'

The report explained: ‘A specific area of work which offers significant potential for increasing efficiency is the back office functions directly supporting the delivery of primary care services.

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

In response to the report, a department spokeswoman said: 'There are no Department of Health plans to introduce a national call centre for GP call handling.'

The department said the suggestion was just one of a range of proposals for streamlining back office functions.

She added: 'In line with our reforms, it is entirely up to the local NHS to decide how to provide the best possible services for their local communities.'

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