The health secretary has backed a think tank’s recommendation to overhaul the current GP contract
“We need to find ways of capturing this culture of close working and shared objectives, and see it replicated across a wider set of priorities, from preventing people becoming unwell in the first place to addressing the long-standing health disparities across our country”. Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary
Health secretary Sajid Javid has supported a think tank’s call to radically restructure NHS GP services, which includes getting rid of the General Medical Services contract within a decade.
The call came in a report by Policy Exchange, which describes the existing GP contract as “outdated.” The report, entitled At Your Service, says that the current model is “neither adequately staffed, nor optimally planned.” It argues that the “expert generalism of GPs is valuable and must be deployed more effectively,” adding that “the remit of GPs has become too broad. In the face of pressure, discretionary effort is now demanded of GPs, rather than rewarded.”
In a foreword to the report, Javid writes: “We need to think deeply about how services are designed and planned – not just within general practice, but across pharmacy and dentistry too. To provide a 21st century offer to patients, we must give the frontline innovators the right tools to evolve to meet the needs of patients in the future.”
He says that we “need to find ways of capturing this culture of close working and shared objectives, and see it replicated across a wider set of priorities, from preventing people becoming unwell in the first place to addressing the long-standing health disparities across our country”.
The Policy Exchange report makes 23 recommendations in all. These include an “overhaul” of the current core GP contract, along with a £6bn rescue package to fund improvements to GP premises and better data collection. Another recommendation is to introduce a first- contact patient navigation tool called NHS Gateway, which would “enhance the patient pathway and consumer experience of primary care.”
The report also tackles digitisation, arguing that the government should consider “introducing a Digital Health and Care Act” in this parliament. Noting that legislation will need to be passed to formally merge NHS Digital with NHS England, it argues that this could “act as a vehicle for streamlining the regulatory and reimbursement routes for digital healthcare.” It adds: “The Bill could also reform approaches to data controllership and usage across the NHS. Duties could be placed upon organisations (including across primary care) to deliver digital maturity, coinciding with the ICS maturity targets set out in the recently published Integration White Paper.”
It also suggests that a “real-time, open-access ‘Trip Advisor-style’ patient review and feedback for service users should become commonplace and should inform commissioning decisions and service design.”