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GPs call for more collaborative working

With social care in crisis, GPs want to do more to ease pressure across the system

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

As the government looks set to allow local authorities to raise council tax rates to prop up the teetering social care system, a survey reveals GPs are in favour of greater collaborative working to cut costs and improve services.

This week has seen desperate pleas from council leaders for more funds to shore up a social care service which has been described in a recent report by the Care Quality Commission as at "tipping point". As funding cuts bite, fewer people are receiving help either at home or in care/nursing homes. The CQC says this is adding to pressure on NHS services with frail and elderly patients being admitted and staying in hospital longer than necessary because of lack of community support.

On Thursday, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to announce spending plans which could either allow councils to increase council tax beyond the extra 2% for which they already have permission, or bring forward extra funds promised for 2019.

Meanwhile, a BMA survey of 5,000 GPs in England reveals 50% want to see the current independent model continued but with resources for greater collaboration.

A third (32%) want to see the development of collaborative alliances with multi-professional healthcare staff to manage increasing care outside of hospitals.

GPs believe that greater collaboration has a range of benefits, including the potential to reduce the bureaucracy of managing a practice (39%), cutting overall workload (37%) and providing a sustainable way to cope with extended access (34%). Just under a third (32%) also believe they can provide greater security and sustainability of practices within a larger organisation.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “These results demonstrate a very strong desire from GPs to work collaboratively in a range of flexible settings. There is support for the continuation of the current independent contractor model if GPs are given the resources and support they need to deliver an effective service to patients.

"Alongside this though, GPs also want to have closer ties with other practices and also with multi-professional healthcare staff. The benefits of developing these models is clear, especially as nearly four in 10 GPs believe that collaborative alliances are key to reducing bureaucracy and unnecessary workload.

“The BMA’s GP committee has already produced guidance on practices working in networks, and we will in the New Year develop further advice to support practices to take forward collaborative initiatives, including drawing upon transformation funds in the GP Forward View that should be made available from April 2017 onwards.”

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