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Hunt announces scheme to free up GP time

29 October 2015

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Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, aims to “immediately stop” pointless referrals from hospitals back to GPs, in order to reduce bureaucracy and free up appointments, he announced today.

This will be done through “more co-ordinated working between GPs and hospitals, wider use of primary care staff and better use of technology”.

He believes that these referrals account for around 2.5% of appointments, and could give “two hours a week back to each GP”. This could mean a 5% increase in workforce capacity – equivalent to 15 million appointments a year, Hunt said.

“We’ve made progress in creating a stronger partnership between doctor and patient, but we still put too many obstacles in the way of doctors and nurses wanting to do the right thing.

“As part of this vision to empower patients there will also be action to take forward the findings from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ report on clinical accountability. The government will ensure that a named, responsible clinician for individual patients will be incorporated into planning guidance from next year,” he added.

The named GP requirement is included in the 2015/16 GP contract, extended from the 2014-15 agreement which required all patients over age 75 to be given a named accountable GP.

By 31 March 2016 all practices will need to include on their website a reference to the fact that all patients have been allocated a named accountable GP.