Jeremy Hunt revealed ‘radical’ plans to to improve care for elderly and vulnerable people and reduce pressure on emergency departments.
He said fundamental change would mean joined-up care spanning primary care, social care, and A&E, overseen by a named GP.
‘In the long term, I want a 24/7 service which recognises patients as individuals and looks out for them proactively. Starting with our most vulnerable, this government is going to support the NHS in doing exactly that.’
Earlier Mr Hunt told the Daily Telegraph the 2004 GP contract negotiated by the Labour government made it more difficult to see a GP, easier to go to A&E, and undermined the personal link with patients.
Many elderly people felt there was ‘no reliable alternative to hospital’, he said.
A DH statement said: ‘Proposals being put together, in order to be rolled out next year include: Patients should have a named clinician responsible for the coordination of their care right across the NHS – between hospital, in care homes, and in their own homes. This is subject to on-going engagement, but current views are that a GP should fill this role.’
Other proposals were to use the £3.8bn integrated care fund to join-up care for elderly people, and ensure a third of A&Es and NHS111 providers have access to GP records by the end of 2014.
Mr Hunt also revealed how he would spend an extra £500 million funding available over the next two years, with half the funds handed to 53 NHS Trusts. £15m will be handed to NHS 111 services to employ more clinicians.
GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'GPs need increased time, space and capacity to care for vulnerable older patients. It is only through real investment, support and partnership with healthcare professionals that the NHS will be able to deliver the personalised, high quality care for older people that we all want to see.'