Revised GP checks in Hunt’s “new deal” for primary care

19 Jun 15

Jeremy Hunt has launched a review of the measures used to assess the quality of care in GP practices, with performance scorecards set to form part of “a new deal” for primary care.

In a speech today, the health secretary said he had asked the Health Foundation think-tank to look at the current indicators used to measure performance of family doctors. Its review will consider the effectiveness of current benchmarks and devise any new indicators that are needed to create a “meaningful” set of performance measurements.

This formed part of what Hunt called the “first steps” towards a new agreement with GPs, as part of which the government will provide an additional 5,000 family doctors across England.

The new deal would also include allocation of the remaining £810m of the government’s £1bn Primary Care Infrastructure Fund, spread over four years, but in exchange for the sector will need to quicken moves towards seven-day working.

He called on GPs to work with him to implement the package.

“Deals have two parties, so I want to be upfront: this is not about change I can deliver on my own.

“If we are to have a new deal I will need your co-operation and support – both in improving the quality and continuity of care for vulnerable patients and delivering better access, seven days a week, for everyone.”

Seven-day GP opening was a key tenet of the reform package as it could help ensure that hospital capacity, particularly accident and emergency, was kept clear for those who really need it, he added.

“We have clear evidence from Imperial College London that a lack of access to GPs at weekends results in increases in urgent hospital admissions,” Hunt stated.

“As Professor Sir Bruce Keogh develops his new model for urgent and emergency care, we need to make sure general practice plays its part in improving access to routine appointments.”

However, this would “never be one size fits all” reform, and different approaches will be appropriate in different parts of the country.

“With local flexibility, local knowledge and local clinical ownership comes the prospect of change that is as exciting for the profession as it is for patients – and we want GP partners to continue to be the leaders and innovators in this process.”

As part of the changes, the Health Foundation review would ensure there was “continuous improvement in the quality of care across the NHS” through improving the available data, the health secretary said.

Following the “stocktake”, a new range of indicators for GP practices would be published on the MyNHS website from next spring.

Health Foundation chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon said improving the quality of care for patients united all people working in health care.

“Good data on quality is the cornerstone to making improvements. We look forward to carrying out this stocktake with others, and assessing how indicators on the quality of primary care might be made better to support those in the NHS make the changes they can see are needed.”

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