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Under a new agreement between the Government and GPs, the following changes in elderly care will be introduced from next year:
- Over-75s will be assigned a GP in a bid to ensure their care is coordinated.
- Patients will then be told the name of their accountable GP.
- Newly registered patients will need to be notified of the name of the GP within 21 days of registration. Existing patients will be notified by 30 June 2014
- GPs will take the lead responsibility for ensuring that all appropriate services required under the contract are delivered to each of their patients.
- Where required (based on their clinical judgement), the named GP will need to work with relevant health and social care professionals to deliver a care package that meets the needs of the patient.
The Health Secretary has said that new contracts which will see doctors assigned to specific patients over 75 years of age will mean a return to "named GPs" for "the most vulnerable".
Jeremy Hunt told ITV Daybreak that these patients would see "a real transformation" in services because they can "speak to their own GP same day, guaranteed".
He also said it was the "first step to reversing the disastrous changes" made to the GP contract in 2004 under the Labour government.
New contracts agreed by GPs and the Government will move away from a performance related pay structure and instead split funding between practice and hospital, to help doctors prevent elderly patients from unnecessary hospital trips.
According to the contracts:
- The quality and outcomes framework (QOF) - which financially rewards GPs for hitting targets in areas such as diabetes care - will be cut.
- Approximately £290 million of funding (238 QOF points) will be diverted to the core GP funding by stripping QOF points from the framework.
- A further 100 QOF points will be removed to help pay for a new enhanced service worth £162m a year for patients with complex health needs.
- Emergency care departments will have easier telephone access to GPs to decide whether or not a patient needs to be admitted.
- Patients will be able to book appointments online and access their summary medical record.
- In December 2014 patients will be asked how likely they are to recommend a GP practice.
Every person aged 75 and over will be assigned a GP in a bid to make sure their care is co-ordinated, according to new contracts with the Government doctors have agreed to.
There are also changes to out-of-hours care - GPs will take on more responsibility and are expected to monitor the quality of their local service.
Both GPs and the Government hope the new deal will introduce an "enhanced service" for patients with complex health needs so they are not unnecessarily admitted to hospital or A&E.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which negotiated for doctors, said the changes would cut unnecessary targets, reduce bureaucratic box-ticking and give doctors more time to focus on the needs of their patients.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA's GP committee, said: "We have negotiated changes that will encourage GPs to provide more personalised care for vulnerable patients at risk of hospital admission, with improved access and other measures to better co-ordinate their care."