An enhanced model of general practice, coordinating integrated, community-based care, could help the NHS tackle wider capacity problems, GPs leaders suggest.
The BMA GPs committee this week published its vision for the future of general practice, setting out how GPs could play a key role in addressing health service capacity and demand problems. GP leaders also published a separate analysis of GPs’ views about their current work.
They are calling on GPs to share their opinions on the proposals.
GPC chair Chaand Nagpaul said the long-term vision sought to address both the pressures on GPs and, more importantly, support and develop general practice in providing improved, personalised patient care, particularly for those with complex needs or long-term conditions.
He added: ‘We also believe that investing in general practice will be a solution to reducing NHS-wide pressures and that this, in turn, will help to secure the future sustainability of the NHS.
‘We would like GPs to engage with the future of their profession by letting us know what they think of the solutions we have outlined.’
Close to burnout
GP focus groups held by the BMA health policy and economic research unit revealed a profession facing increasing workload pressure and at risk of burnout. GPs felt under considerable strain because of uncertainties around government funding, shortages of practice and nursing staff, more referrals, and the demands of more patients with long-term conditions and multiple co-morbidities.
The GPC’s solutions focus on:
- More integrated care, closer to home, delivered by a team built around the GP practice
- Improving urgent and out-of-hours care services
- Improved accessibility and local accountability
- Empowering patients as partners.
The GPC argues that its vision will require increased numbers of GPs, practice staff and community nurses, and greater collaboration with secondary care clinicians. This could involve designing and providing care pathways to bring more diagnostics and specialist care into community settings, for example, and more joint training and education for GPs and secondary care clinicians.
The GPC wants to see a clinician-led first-point-of-contact urgent care telephone triage service, and says contracts should be awarded based on providers’ existing experience in delivering out-of-hours care.
Its solutions paper also highlights how the workload and workforce pressures have made accessibility to general practice difficult and suggests solutions such as GPs working in larger practices and via federations.
The BMA reiterates the need to develop strong integrated community care teams around GP surgeries in its response to NHS England’s review of general practice.
NHS England launched its call for ideas to improve general practice in August in light of changing patient demographics and the need for more community-based care.
In its submission, the BMA says: ‘In order to encourage … development, general practice needs essential resources and support. This includes placing trust in GPs to shape services to best meet the needs of their patients.’
Read more about the GPC’s vision
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