• NHS chief outlines a greater role for community hospitals

    3rd October 2014 | News | Claire
  • GP surgeries could be set up in hospitals under “radical” NHS plans to prevent elderly people being needlessly admitted as emergencies.

    The head of the NHS will unveil the strategy to tackle a critical shortage of GPs, and stop hospitals from being flooded with patients.

    Simon Stevens will say that individual hospitals can set up GP surgeries, with permanent lists of patients, so people will be able to obtain help more easily.

    It follows a Conservative pledge to open family doctors’ practices seven days a week by 2020, and warnings that more than 500 practices in England are under threat of closure because almost all of their doctors are on the brink of retirement.

    Opening bigger surgeries within hospitals would allow a more efficient use of family doctors’ time, officials believe.

    Practices would be likely to attract patients to their list from a larger area, and it would also allow them to see other patients who had turned to accident & emergency units because they could find no other help.

    Mr Stevens will tell the Royal College of GPs in Liverpool that services need to change radically so that they work together to prevent patients being “passed from pillar to post”.

    “GPs themselves say that in many parts of the country the corner shop model of primary care is past its use-by date,” he will say. “We need to tear up the design flaw in the 1948 NHS model where family doctors were organised entirely separately from hospital specialists, and where patients with chronic health conditions are increasingly passed from pillar to post between different bits of the health and social services.”

    The NHS chief executive will outline new models of care amid warnings of critical shortages of family doctors and fears that the NHS could not cope with a bad winter.

    Mr Stevens will suggest that GP practices could open in hospitals, especially in urban areas, where doctors are spread too thinly between a number of traditional local practices.
    In other areas, family doctors could band together to run expanded community hospitals, employing hospital consultants and other staff and offering extra services, such as scans, outpatient chemotherapy and dialysis.

    The plan follows indications earlier this year that Mr Stevens wants to see a bigger role for “cottage”, community and local district general hospitals.

    He will say that there will be no national blueprint, but that towns, cities and rural communities should find models which work for their populations, and ensure services work around the patient.

    He will say that the new models of care are intended to do a better job of looking after people in their communities, and stop them being admitted to hospital as an emergency for lack of preventive care.

    In the speech to GPs, he will say more funding should shift to general practice, pointing out that 30 per cent of emergency patients admitted to hospital are there for less than a day, suggesting that the right care could have prevented the admission.