GPs will have to be available 24/7 to offer ‘decision support’ in order to prevent patients from being admitted to hospital under a plan to radically reform the urgent care system published by NHS England today.
The move is proposed as part of a package of suggested measures to improve the care of patients seven days a week, including holding GP telephone consultations out-of-hours’ and a guarantee that patients can have ‘same-day access’ to GPs who are ‘integrated with their GP practice’.
NHS chiefs said that they did not ‘necessarily’ want GPs to be on-call 24/7, but that they wanted to create a more ‘integrated’ system.
The document proposes that patients should be given ‘guaranteed same-day access to a primary care team that is integrated with their GP practice’, possibly through ‘GP telephone consultations both in and out-of-hours’.
It also proposes that GPs or out-of-hours teams should have ‘easy direct access’ to a same-day opinion from hospital specialists.
But what is likely to be one of the more controversial suggestions is to provide: ‘decision support from a patient’s own GP practice and hospital specialist nurse/team, seven days a week’.
Other suggestions to improve urgent care include having urgent care centres staffed with a ‘multi-disciplinary team with support of at least one GP or other registered medical practitioner’.
The proposals come after Pulse revealed that seven in ten GPs would not take back responsibility for out-of-hours care even if they were offered up to £20,000 per partner and had a guarantee they would not have to do the on-call shifts themselves.
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