General practice is in need of radical modernisation and increased investment, according to a new report.
An independent report commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) calls for the government to set up a "transformation fund" to drive improvement in general practice.
The report claims this will enable GPs to provide better care for patients, enable people to take on more responsibility for their own health, and to utilise modern technology to access services remotely.
General practice should move away from being a 'cottage industry' towards clinicians working differently with patients, and practice increasingly working together at scale with other parts of the health service.
The report states that, practices working together at scale could become ‘multi-speciality community providers’ which, as well as having GPs, would include specialists, pharmacists, social workers, community nurses and workers from the voluntary sector. This could enable them to:
- Offer patients a wider range of clinical and community services
- Raise standards of care
- Merge back-office functions
- Ensure high quality out of hours care
- Offer a step-change in online access to clinical consultations and patient records.
An inquiry into patient centred care in the 21st century, which was written by former NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar (pictured), also calls for a new relationship between patients and clinicians.
This new relationship is needed to meet "diverging expectations" of modern patients, who may wish to take advantage of IT developments and take responsibility for their own care.
Farrar said: "Given the pressures created by the age of austerity and the explosion in the number of people with more than one long term condition, it is imperative that the government sets up a ‘transformation fund’ to drive forward a revolution in general practice and wider community care.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that we need a seismic shift in the way care is delivered, as well in the attitudes of clinicians, to ensure we can provide care to patients that is centred on the individual and as close to home as possible."
RCGP chair Maureen Baker said: “The sustained growth in the number of patients with more than one long term condition, coupled with the plummeting level of investment in community care, has left general practice, as we know it, withering on the vine.
“GPs across the country will embrace the call to adopt new ways of working in order to ensure better patient care, but – as this report highlights – this can only be delivered with far greater levels of investment in community care, and we call on the government to act on this as a matter of urgency.”