Health minister, David Mowat, who is responsible for general practice, has said that the current 7,500 GP practices in England could be compacted into just 1,500 ‘super-hubs’.
‘We are finding that it is working better’ for GP practices are made into hubs with lists of 35,000-40,000 patients, he said during a Westminster Hall debate last week, and that therefore the Government will be ‘migrating over a period of time’ towards that model.
Hubs are more able to employ pharmacists and physiotherapists, and do more things ‘at scale’ than a single practice, Mowat said.
‘So we are sort of migrating over a period of time to a position in which there may be – well, there are 7,500 GP practices around the country – to something more like 1,500 of these sort of super hubs,’ the minister said.
Although he noted that it would be ‘a long road’ until this could be rolled out.
Mowat said that ‘possibly 100s’ of GPs could work at each super-hub.
‘That is a difference in model and there’s some evidence that it’s enabling those practices to offer more career structures to those GP s and the opportunities to specialties they didn’t have before,’ he said.
The average practice list size, which is currently at 7,000, rose by 28% between 2002 and 2015.
The minister’s comments were made during the House of Commons debate on soaring indemnity costs for GPs, in which Mowat pledged to extend financial support for practices beyond the current £60m package agreed for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
The General Practitioners Committee (GPC) has said that super-practices could be one of the few ways of ensuring the ‘core principles’ of general practice are retained going forward. However, the committee is fighting for practices to be able to keep the GMS contract alongside the new contract.
The GPC has advised practices not to feel ‘pressured’ into leaving their current contracts in order to enter new models.