GP contract changes bring back ‘family doctor’

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Dr Chaand Nagpaul - web Recently agreed changes to GP contracts aim to bring back the ‘family doctor’ and reduce paperwork pressure on GPs.

The government and the BMA have agreed on GP contract changes that will allow GPs to offer more personalised care to their vulnerable patients and reduce the “box-ticking” culture by removing certain targets.

The new GP contracts, recently agreed with the BMA, have been welcomed by the medical profession as enabling them to focus attention on the patients most in need of care, especially the elderly.

Patients aged over 75 will be assigned their own personal GP, and there are also plans to introduce an “enhanced service” for patients with complex needs, including easier telephone access for emergency providers to contact GPs and assess whether hospital admission is necessary.

This move towards personalised care will also make GPs more accountable for the well-being of their patients – they will now be responsible for ensuring that out-of-hours care is adequate for their patients.

One of the most welcome changes for GPs is the reduction of the widely criticised Quality and Outcomes Framework, which links funding to documentation on patients. A third of the targets are to be removed under the new contract. This change has been praised by Dr Chaand Nagpaul (pictured), Chairman of the BMA’s GP committee, for allowing doctors to “look at the patient in front of them, not the computer screen.”

While the contract changes place emphasis on the vulnerable patients in communities, critics have pointed out that the Government has done nothing to address the problems that patients face in securing appointments with their GP. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “The bottom line is, under this government it has got harder to get a GP appointment. And nothing in today’s announcement will correct that.”

Further changes are likely to be negotiated with GPs in the coming years, with Hunt promising “much bigger change” to improve services throughout the health system.

“This is about fixing the long-term pressures on our A&E services, and freeing hardworking doctors to improve care for those with the greatest need,” he said.