Hunt to reveal GP reforms and new inspection regime

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will unveil plans for a new chief inspector of general practice on Thursday, and will call for all patients to have a named GP responsible for co-ordinating their care in- and out-of-hours.

Jeremy Hunt: plans GP chief inspector
Jeremy Hunt: plans GP chief inspector

But GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said some of Mr Hunt’s comments were ‘confused’ and the health secretary was simply ‘firing shots for the next election’.

Mr Hunt will make a commitment for every patient to have a named individual GP responsible for co-ordinating their care. In out-of-hours care, Mr Hunt will not demand GPs be individually responsible for providing services, but will call for them to work with commissioners to ensure their patients receive the best care.

A chief inspector of general practice, based in the CQC, will crack down on practices that fail to provide the most effective care.

A DH spokeswoman said the speech was about ‘bringing the family doctor back into the practice’ and ensuring more personal, integrated care.

She said Mr Hunt recognised that many GPs do good work, and he wanted to extend that across the system.

‘He knows they are under a lot of pressure, and is also keen to reduce the bureaucracy they are tied to so they freer to focus on patient care.’

The Daily Mail said Mr Hunt will condemn out-of-hours services where ‘you speak to a doctor who doesn’t know you from Adam’ and insisting GPs must take back round-the-clock responsibility for their patients.

‘Patients should know that one family doctor is responsible for them, and even if their GP is not on call it will be clear that the buck stops with them,' he will say.

The announcement at the King’s Fund will coincide with the start of the UK LMCs conference where GPs are set to vote to refuse to take back out-of-hours responsibility, putting the profession on a collision course with government.

Mr Hunt will repeat his claims that general practice is to blame for a crisis of demand on A&E where admissions have soared because there is ‘no credible alternative’, according to the Mail.

He will say: ‘But what alternatives do we offer? GP surgeries where it is often impossible to get an appointment the next day; same day appointments but only if you call at 8 o’clock in the morning sharp and are lucky getting through; long waits on the phone to get through, sometimes at premium rates; difficulty in registering with another practice if you move home, or aren’t happy with the service you are receiving; out-of-hours services where you speak to a doctor who doesn’t know you from Adam and has no access to your medical record.’

Dr Buckman said he would not be against a return to GP co-ops, pointing out that in areas where they remained in operation, patients ‘often do know the GP who treats them’.

But he said many had been forced out by competition introduced under the last government.

He said the government should not forget how its own policies were affecting the care GPs were able to provide.

‘He wants to get rid of box-ticking – so do we. But it was his government who made the QOF harder, who made it more difficult to achieve. We said it would be worse for patient care and for access, but who didn’t listen? His government. He needs to look internally more.

GPs’ commissioning role through CCGs in England was ‘another piece of time-wasting that means you won’t be delivering care for patients’, Dr Buckman argued.

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