All patients in England will have a named GP responsible for coordinating their care under changes to the national contract announced on 30 September 2014.
As part of their obligations under the 2015 contract, negotiated by NHS Employers and the British Medical Association’s General Practitioner Committee, GPs will be expected to offer patients online access to medical records and deliver more online services, including appointments.
From April 2015, GPs must identify new patients over the age of 16 who drink alcohol at increased or higher levels, as part of the alcohol enhanced service.
Initiatives that help avoid unplanned hospital admissions — offered as an enhanced service by GPs — will also be funded for another 12 months, NHS England announced.
Details of negotiated changes to the contract — which fail to include mention of any new partnerships between GPs and community pharmacists — were announced on the same day that Prime Minister David Cameron revealed that the next Conservative government would guarantee patients access to a GP service seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.
He told listeners to the BBC radio 4 Today programme that the move — which builds on 24-hour GP access pilots launched in nine areas in England last year — would take pressure off hospital A&E departments. “If you manage [NHS] resources well you are able to make changes like this,” he said. “The crucial thing about this change is that it directly addresses where the pressure is coming from in the NHS, which is the growing number of frail and elderly people in this country. If you are a frail and elderly person, A&E isn’t the right place for you.”
Cameron’s pledge to increase GP access follows Labour’s election pledge for the NHS made at its party conference on 24 September 2014.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham promised the next Labour government would finish Nye Bevan’s vision and “bring social care in to the NHS”.
He promised that everybody would have the right to care in their own home and said a Labour government would repeal the “toxic” Health and Social Care Act.
“A national health and care service truly there from cradle to grave — from a new right to have a home-birth and a right to be in your own home at the end of your life, surrounded by the people you love, with your care provided on the NHS and no worry about its cost — starting with those who are terminally ill with the greatest care needs.”
He warned the conference: “Make no mistake — this coming election is a battle for the soul of the NHS. The fight of our lives.”