Hunt vision 'will not end GP crisis', warns RCGP

Jeremy Hunt's vision for a 'radical' reform of primary care will not stop the crisis in general practice without a clear commitment to increased funding, the RCGP has warned.

Professor Clare Gerada: investment in GPs is key
Professor Clare Gerada: investment in GPs is key

In a speech at the King's Fund think tank today, the health secretary set out further details of his plans to make named GPs responsible for patient care across health and social care around the clock.

Responding to the speech, RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada said: 'We welcome the health secretary's intention to shift the focus from hospitals to primary care, which is essential if we are to restore the NHS to a sustainable footing.

'GPs are the biggest champions of many of the things to which Mr Hunt refers - care planning, continuity and taking a proactive approach. We would be keen to explore how the savings generated by GPs in reducing unplanned admissions to hospital could be ploughed back into practices and spent on more care for patients.'

She welcomed his recognition of the need for more GPs, and agreed with his plan to give practices the right to opt back into out-of-hours provision as long as they retain the option to opt out.

But Professor Gerada warned: 'While we welcome any efforts to reduce bureaucracy, we must ensure the government does not promote simplifications of the QOF as a substitute for extra resources.

'However, this speech will not end the crisis in general practice. We urgently need a clear commitment for sufficient funding to enable general practice to deliver more services for their patients.

'GPs carry out 90% of patient contacts within the NHS but receive only 9% of the budget. We are creaking under the strain of ever-increasing workloads, with dwindling resources. Eighty-five per cent of GPs think general practice has reached crisis point and 49% think they can no longer guarantee safe patient care.

'Four in five GPs are concerned that they will not be able to deliver continuity of care to vulnerable older people - identified by Mr Hunt as a top priority.

'We urge Mr Hunt to be bolder in recognising the need for a shift in NHS expenditure - so that general practice receives its fair share of NHS funding and GPs can deliver the care that our patients need and deserve.'

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