UNDER PM May’s long-term NHS plan, a new scheme is set out in which GPs are offered ‘shared savings’ for the amount of patients they divert from attending A&Es.
The new scheme, offering GPs financial incentives not to refer their patients to hospitals, has been rightly slammed by GPs themselves as dangerous. Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said: ‘If you are going to say to the GP “I am going to pay you to avoid referring patients to hospital”, that is not acceptable.’
The GPs working within primary care networks will be able to take part in a ‘shared savings’ scheme that will allow them to ‘benefit’ from efforts to reduce ‘avoidable A&E attendances, admissions and delayed discharge’ the 10-year plan states.
In the past, GP leaders have strongly criticised any scheme that provides financial incentives for cutting patient referrals to hospitals. Last year a major investigation revealed around a quarter of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England offered some kind of financial inducement for reducing referrals to specialists.
In five regions, GP practices were being offered controversial ‘profit share’ agreements that meant they were paid up to half the savings if they refrained from referring their patients. GPs at the time said the schemes represented a ‘serious dereliction of duty, influenced by CCGs trying to balance their books.’
Meanwhile, face-to-face appointments are to be replaced by smartphone ‘consultations’. PM May’s plan claims that within five years up to 30 million hospital appointments – around one-in-three – will be scrapped, and replaced with a Skype video consultation instead!
And within a decade, digital consultations are expected to become ‘the default option for patients’, the new strategy says. Doctors, time and again, have warned against replacing face-to-face real appointments with virtual video consultations, because symptoms can be missed or misdiagnosed.
- While PM May was outlaunching her long-term plan at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool … just down the road lies the Royal Liverpool Hospital, half built and derelict! It was abandoned after construction firm Carillion went bust. Work ground to a halt last January following a botched private finance initiative deal with the now-collapsed Carillion.
The half-built £500million hospital lies empty and unused. And, although a new construction firm has now been employed to finish the job, the work will take at least another year. In the meantime, managers at its trust are having to employ 18 staff to turn the 4,000 taps on and off regularly in a bid to prevent the build-up of deadly legionella bacteria.