Traditional GP model 'needs to change', Labour conference told

GPs' workload should be broken up among other health professionals, a Labour member of the health select committee has said.

Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Brighton Rachael Maskell MP suggested the ‘traditional model’ of general practice was set up for a particular time and medicine had evolved.

‘I think we need to ask what does a GP do’, she told the Respublica event. ‘Because the role has evolved so that GPs do so many things now, and actually with advanced practitioners and other professionals being part of the equation and social mix including new care coordinators, is there a better triaging system to ensure GPs can do what GPs do best.’

Ms Maskell, who was was previously a physiotherapist and the Unite union’s head of health, said that in order to achieve change in the NHS there was a need for more ‘generic’ training for health professionals.

‘We are training people in their silos, in their professions, and then expect them further down the road to integrate in a totally different model of healthcare,’ she said. ‘Therefore, looking at more generic training is really important.’

Criticising the coalition government's health reforms, Ms Maskell said the reorganisation of services had pushed resources and demand towards the most expensive acute and emergency services.

'What's happening in general practice has meant more people going to A&E,’ she said. The replacement of NHS Direct with 111 had also increased demand on emergency departments, she added.

'And the huge cuts to social care and local government, all those services which kept people at home, has now driven people into the most acute part of the health service.’  

Ms Maskell called for additional investment in early childhood intervention and preventive health as well as a greater focus on health and wellbeing in the workplace.

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