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Hunt: GPs not a ‘reliable alternative to hospital’

10 September 2013

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for improved care from GPs to reduce the number of elderly people attending hospital. 

According to the Secretary of State for Health, the frail elderly often feel there is “no reliable alternative to hospital”. 

Hunt believes that changes to the GP contract in 2004 “undermined the personal link between GPs and the people on their lists”. 

But Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) chair Dr Clare Gerada called Hunt’s comments “disheartening and morale-sapping”. 

She said: “The Health Secretary is right to make the care of vulnerable older people a priority.

“But because of insufficient resourcing for general practice four out of five family doctors are concerned that it will become increasingly difficult to deliver continuity of care to vulnerable elderly people.

“Once again hardworking GPs are being attacked when the Government should be supporting them and giving general practice its fair share of NHS funding. Without that we cannot provide the quality of services in the community for all our patients that we all want.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Health Secretary said: “Since the last government’s misguided changes to the GP contract, it’s become easier to go to A&E and harder to go and see a GP. In fact, we’ve got to a point where A&E staff know some patients better than their own GPs. 

 “I think it will take about four years to undo the damage done by those changes in 2004 but at least if we can undo it for the most frail and vulnerable older people next year, that will be an important step in the right direction.”

Hunt said the NHS needs a “better way” for vulnerable older people to get treatment through the NHS.