It is hoped that if GPs are freed from some targets, general practice will become more proactive. Proactive general practice must integrate itself with social care and share electronic patient records it holds with other services, Hunt argued.
“I am totally passionate about general practice,” he said. “Your role is absolutely fundamental if we are going to make the NHS sustainable for the future. You are the most cost effective way of keeping health costs down in a healthcare system. You are the best equipped to look after people at home rather than them having to go to hospital.”
One of three changes Hunt has proposed is that the incentive payment system for GPs, known as the Quality and Outcomes Framework, would be reformed over the next few months so that all targets have a clinical purpose.
Proactive care in general practice needs to be focused on subsets of patients, starting next April with frail/elderly people, then including people with long-term conditions, then children and mothers, and finally the normally healthy.
In June the government announced a £3.8bn “integration transformation” fund that would be used jointly by Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities to commission services to improve continuity of care for patients leaving hospital.
The planned launch of integrated health and social care was being brought forward a year to April 2014 because of the enthusiasm among commissioners.