Named GPs could have 24-hour responsibility for elderly

Named GPs could be made accountable for the care of elderly patients 'at all times' for care outside of hospital, under proposals unveiled today by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Jeremy Hunt: named GPs should be responsible for elderly
Jeremy Hunt: named GPs should be responsible for elderly

Patients, family and carers ‘need to know where the buck stops’, health secretary Hunt will say in a speech in London today.

The DH launched a consultation today asking who should be the ‘named clinician’ for vulnerable elderly patients leaving hospital.

It asks: ‘Who do you feel is best placed to perform the role of a named accountable clinician in a primary care setting?’

But Mr Hunt will say today: 'As a member of the public I would like that to be my GP. But whoever it is they should be named so that patients, families and carers all know where the buck stops.'

The DH has also confirmed that the friends and family test will be rolled out in general practice by December 2014.

In the speech, held at Evelina London Children's Hospital to mark the 65th anniversary of the NHS, Mr Hunt will say: ‘As we celebrate, we also reflect. The world today is very different to 1948. The old model was curable illnesses where you went into hospital unwell and came out better.

‘Yet most people now leave hospital with long-term conditions which need to be supported and managed at home.

‘So the challenge today is to provide integrated, co-ordinated, out of hospital care. Something where the NHS, with our tradition of family doctors and primary care, could lead the world.

‘But to do that we need to know that there is a clinician accountable for vulnerable older people in the community, just as there is a consultant responsible for them in hospital.'

LMCs have called on hospitals to improve the handover of patient care to GPs. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that the secondary care handover needs to ‘dramatically improve’ if patients are going to be given a single accountable clinician, which could include a GP.

‘Most practices will tell you they are getting letters addressed to long-retired partners,’ he said.

Dr Vautrey said that in some cases the named clinician responsible for a patient should be a hospital consultant.

‘We are increasingly working in teams with consultant colleagues. We should be seeing an integrated approach.’

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