Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Millions To Benefit From Improved GP Care

It has been announced today that extended opening hours and enhanced local care for the elderly will soon be available at doctors' surgeries across many parts of the country, thanks to a new drive to improve local GP services.

Millions of people will now be able to see their family doctor outside of working hours, including late night and weekend appointments, while the elderly and those with more serious health complaints will get tailored care, coordinated by just one local GP.

The £50m GP Access Fund will support 1,147 practices covering every region to offer extra services for those who struggle to find appointments that fit in with their family and work life. GP groups have responded enthusiastically to the call for ideas on how to modernise services to suit busy lifestyles, including Skype, email and phone consultations for those who would find it easier. The Fund was originally expected to help just 500,000 people but has been expanded as a result of a high level of interest from surgeries across the country.

800,000 people with more complex needs, mostly aged over 75, will also be enrolled onto a separate Transforming Primary Care programme. These patients will be offered a enhanced service including:
  • Individual care plans regularly-reviewed with patients and carers
  • A named GP responsible for their care
  • Same-day access to a GP when they need it
The Transforming Primary Care programme will be supported by dedicated funding of almost £500 per patient and a commitment to train 10,000 more frontline community staff by 2020.

People are living longer with more complex needs, which is putting pressure on the NHS. The 4.2million people over 75 in England is expected to rise to 6.3million by 2026. By 2018, 3 million people will have three or more long-term conditions.

These plans represent the start of a fundamental shift in care from hospital to home, in which people will be given on-going support to better manage conditions in the community rather than being admitted to hospital.

Other GP services that will be rolled out from May into next year include:
  • Electronic prescriptions and online booking of appointments
  • Easier, on-line registration and choice of practice
  • Joining-up of urgent care and out-of-hours care
  • The option to visit a number of GP surgery sites in their area
  • Better access to 'telecare' to help sick people stay comfortable at home