With the government today announcing a winter support package for GPs, the Health Secretary has this morning doubled down on plans to introduce more transparent information on GP surgeries.
Denying that these proposals were league tables, Sajid Javid told the BBC Radio Four Today programme that, “We won’t be publishing any league tables. What the NHS will be doing is providing more granular information on primary care at a practice by practice level”.
Detailing how the plans for extra information had already been piloted effectively with 60 practices, Javid said, “The point of that is transparency and accountability. At the moment, that information is published at a regional level through what is called a local CCJ, it is right that it is published at a practice by practice level”.
With some GP groups known to be wary about the new information proposals, the Health Secretary justified the initiative in terms of health inequalities.
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“I believe passionately in tackling health disparities, levelling up health care. We live in a country that depending on where you live, there are very different health outcomes, and how are we going to tackle that if we don’t have local and specific information”
“So for people who care about health disparities and want something to be done about it, we do need the information to work out and see what is working”
Mr Javid’s comments come after the government has this morning announced an initiative to provide extra support for GPs this winter. The move comes following claims that the level of face to face appointments has dropped from four-fifths before the pandemic to less than three fifths.
Although a record number of students are said to now be in medical training, the Health Secretary acknowledged concerns of the medical establishment that there is a current shortage of GPs.
“It is absolutely the case that we do need more GPs, whether that is locums or otherwise, and that is something that the government has been investing in for a while. In the last couple of years we have seen an increase, but not by enough”.
With the medical establishment pointing to shortages of GPs and locums, today’s government announcement contains plans to support capacity by transferring some workload away from GPs through the expansion of the community pharmacy scheme.
The British Medical Association (BMA) heavily criticised the government as “out of touch”, and warned that GPs were about to deal with “the worst winter in decades”.
The Union’s GP committee chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: “GPs across England will be truly horrified that this is being presented as a lifeline to general practice when in reality it could sink the ship altogether.”
In light of the review, Sally Warren, policy director at health-focused think tank the King’s Fund, said:
“As the health and care system moves away from a period defined by competition to one where collaboration and partnership working is much more important, it is useful to think about the leadership skills required now and in the future.
“We know that compassionate and inclusive leadership is key to successfully delivering good quality care. It is critical that the review does not focus on efficiency at the expense of the leadership qualities needed to ensure that staff feel valued and able to deliver the best possible care.
“The history of the NHS is dotted with reviews of management and leadership by leading figures from outside the NHS that have failed to have significant impact, so the government will need to be clear what will be different this time.
“Leading health and care services is one of the most challenging leadership tasks in this country, so it is critical that this review ensures leaders feel supported to step up into these complex and demanding roles.”