Hunt reveals plan to undo 'historic mistake' of 2004 GP contract

Plans to make named GPs responsible for vulnerable elderly patients' out-of-hospital care around the clock will be in place from next April, the health secretary has revealed.

Jeremy Hunt: 'radical' primary care reforms
Jeremy Hunt: 'radical' primary care reforms

In a speech at the King's Fund think tank on Thursday, Jeremy Hunt revealed further details of his vision for 'bold and radical' reforms to primary care.

Mr Hunt told the conference he would reverse the ‘historic mistake made in the 2004 contract changes, which abolished personal responsibility by GPs for patients on their lists’.

He set out plans that could hand back out-of-hours duty to GPs, called for a ‘dramatic simplification’ of targets and incentives for GPs, and pledged to shift hospital savings ‘back into general practice to pay for higher levels of care’.

Mr Hunt called for more proactive primary care, with ‘a named GP for all vulnerable older people’.

Full detail of how the proposals will be implemented would be for negotiations later this year, Mr Hunt said.

He said: ‘From next April I would like to empower those named GPs to look after vulnerable older people on their lists in the way the GPs intended when they first joined the profession: to take responsibility for ensuring these patients have proper care plans and are supported to look after themselves; to have the time to contact their patients proactively, not just when they walk through the surgery door; to be able to decide how best out of hours care should be managed in their local areas, including, for example, choosing to take back responsibility at a practice level for delivering out-of-hours care; to be able to decide what support their most vulnerable patients get from district nurses.’

Mr Hunt said practices could chose to do this through federations or through CCGs, and that GPs would not personally administer services 24/7.

‘But if they are not able to see a patient out of hours or do a home visit, they should make sure another clinician can,' he said.

Mr Hunt called for a ‘dramatic simplification of the targets and incentives imposed on GP surgeries’ to give them more time with patients, and for money saved by reducing hospital admissions to be invested in general practice.

‘Precisely how will be a matter for detailed negotiation later in the year, but we need to be ready to go with a new approach for vulnerable older people by April 2014’, he added.

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