'Use LESs to cut admissions'

Local health boards (LHBs) in Wales have been told to work closely with GPs to identify 'frequent fliers' in a bid to cut bed blocking.

GPs’ commitment to care pathways for older, vulnerable patients is patchy, Jeremy Colman, the Auditor General for Wales, said in a report on delayed transfer of care released last week.

LHBs could incentivise GPs to avoid unnecessary admissions and work with GPs with low referral rates, Mr Colman said.

The GMS contract can be used to ‘develop stronger care pathways that reduce admissions to hospitals and improve wellbeing’, he said.

The best way to incentivise GPs to engage in appropriate care pathways would be through local enhanced services, Dr David Bailey, chairman of GPC Wales said.

But he warned against any incentives for GPs not to admit vulnerable patients.

‘Incentivising not admitting people to hospital is a slippery slope. The decision should be entirely clinical and patients are entitled to expect that,’ he said.

The recommendations come as figures revealed a two per cent rise in 2005-7 in the number of days patients stayed in hospital waiting for suitable transfer.

Around £27 million could be freed up for reinvestment in the service by solving the bed-blocking problem, Mr Colman said.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

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