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Primary care needs more 'active role' says government

Primary care needs more 'active role' says government

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Each area in England must finalise their Urgent Care Plans by September to avoid problems over the winter months, the government has warned. 

In the final report into urgent and emergency care provision in the UK, the Health Select Committee said current plans lack “sufficient urgency”. 

NHS England has been instructed to ensure that all plans are finalised by 30 September 2013. 

Committee chair Stephen Dorrell said primary care also has a part to play. 

He said: “Enabling primary care to assume a more active role in dealing with urgent cases is an important part of this.

“The system is ‘flying blind’ without adequate information about the nature of the demand being placed upon it.”  

The Health Select Committee has suggested that NHS England “actively” seek innovative proposals for community-based urgent care services. 

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has said that the report moves the debate away from ‘blaming’ GPs on to the real issue of increasing funding and resources for general practice. 

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair said: “The Committee has got its analysis of the root causes of the problems facing our urgent and emergency care services spot on. 

“No one part of the system - hospital departments, GPs or ambulance services - is to blame but the overall fragmentation of the system is not serving the best interests of patients.” 

RCGP, together with the Patients Association, has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for an urgent summit to discuss how primary care resourcing can be increased. 

And Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation agreed. 

He said: "Most importantly, we need to rebalance the NHS's investment in primary and community-based health services, and ensure the payment system does not inadvertently reward or penalise NHS services for meeting patient's needs.” 

The Health Select Committee also said it was “disappointed” that NHS 111 was launched despite the lack of evidence to support it. 

Stephen Dorrell said: “We are concerned that having to speak to a call-handler and going through a laborious triage process will only encourage patients to see A&E and their first port of call.” 

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