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GP practices should be “tearing up” contractual frameworks, says think tank

12 April 2016

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A public service think tank is calling for a shake up of GP practices  and a “tearing up” of the contractual framework with care offered seven days a week by larger providers.

The reform think tank said the traditional model of GP practices had one foot in the past and some services could be provided by other professionals, commissioned by integrated commissioners.

Its report Who cares – the future of general practice said the government should scrap its plans to recruit 5,000 more GPs.

Instead see if some services could be delivered “more efficiently by other clinicians” cutting the number of GP appointments by a third, so they could offer longer consultations.

Reform said the NHS could save £727 million a year if  nurses and pharmacists picked up the estimated 57 million annual appointments for minor ailments.

 It also said the number of CCGs should be trimmed and  ”today’s fragmented funding system” shared between NHS England, CCGs and LAS should be replaced with integrated commissioners offering fixed term contracts of five to 15 years.

They “will be best-placed to design and commission contracts which hold providers responsible for the whole care needs of defined populations,” said the report’s authors.

It said:  “This necessitates a tearing-up of the contractual framework. New contracts should be designed to make providers accountable for the whole care needs of a defined population group. These can be awarded to single providers, or groups.

The report praised new super practices such as the vanguard site Lakeside Healthcare in Northamptonshire which cares for 100,000 patients.

It criticised GPs’ failure to introduce new technology, with just 7% of appointments booked online and called for more use of video consultations via smartphones and other devices.

Practices should also cover a seven-day a week service which could help prevent some of the 12 million A&E visits caused by patients’ inability to get an appointment at their surgery.

Reform said Taurus Healthcare in Herefordshire was reporting a steady increase in weekend appointments.

Click here to see the reform