NHS must fund seismic shift in delivery of GP care, says RCGP-backed report

NHS England should develop a 'transformation fund' to pay for a major shift in the way general practice is delivered, an independent report commissioned by the RCGP has found.

Mike Farrar: led report for RCGP
Mike Farrar: led report for RCGP

The report, led by former NHS Confederation chief executive, Mike Farrar, said there must be a ‘seismic’ shift in how general practice is delivered, with practices working as federations or networks with other healthcare services to deliver co-ordinated and proactive care to patients.

But the report - Patient-centred care in the 21st century -  said general practice’s registered lists and generalist approach to care were key strengths of the current healthcare model which should not be lost, and should be harnessed to improve population health and provide personalised, ongoing care to people with long-term conditions.

To overhaul general practice a ‘transformation fund’ should be established by NHS England to ensure that patient care is increasingly delivered in primary care and community settings, the report said. This would be on top of an urgent need to increase funding for general practice and community based care, which the report identified.

Key recommendations

Among the report’s 46 recommendations were calls for:

  • Action to increase GP training numbers, including incentives to attract trainees to under-doctored areas.

  • A move away from performance indicators to a system that allows care to be tailored for patients and does not penalise GPs for respecting patients’ wishes.

  • More resources for patient groups to work with doctors to shape healthcare services.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said the report highlighted the pressure GPs were under, but also strongly endorsed the ‘pivotal’ role general practice plays within the NHS.

‘GPs across the country will embrace the call to adopt new ways of working in order to ensure better patient care, but – as this report highlights – this can only be delivered with far greater levels of investment in community care, and we call on the government to act on this as a matter of urgency,’ she said.

Report chairman Mr Farrar said it would be ‘indefensible’ to continue delivering healthcare in a way that was ‘designed for the needs of a bygone era’.

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