19 November 2013

AJ Cronin's fictional personification of the best of personal health care looks as though it might become required reading for a new generation of GPs when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's latest plans come to fruition.

Promising millions of elderly people a dedicated GP personally accountable for their care around the clock, he said that his aim was to bring back the era of the old-fashioned family doctor.

Under changes to their contract with the NHS, GPs will be asked to ensure that the four million patients aged 75 or over will get all the treatment they need for physical and mental conditions.

The new contract for 2014/15 has been agreed between the British Medical Association’s General Practice Committee and NHS England, directed by the Department of Health.

It envisages GPs overseeing personalised care plans which will integrate all services, so the frail and elderly are better cared for in the community, reducing hospital admissions.

Other key changes, the Health Secretary said, will introduce more transparency over practices’ earnings and performance, greater patient choice and fairer pay.

GPs’ new responsibilities will include: offering patients same-day telephone consultations; offering paramedics, A&E doctors and care homes a dedicated telephone line so they can advise on treatment; and coordinating care for elderly patients discharged from A&E.

"Rigorous new inspections of GP surgeries will mean every local person will know whether they are getting the care they deserve," Mr Hunt said.