The chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee has called for practices to “form network arrangements” and share staff to provide extended opening services and a “stronger community-based provision of care”.
Chaand Nagpaul said an “integrated approach” would “allow the current resources to stretch further”.
A report produced by the committee, Developing General Practice: Providing Healthcare Solutions for the Future, recommends the creation of primary care “hubs” - buildings or facilities that can be accessed by these networks.
A GP network would “enable general practice to be more accessible,” he added, “but what we don’t advocate is some political mantra that it has to be seven days a week.”
The BMA last week released a statement backing seven-day access to certain NHS services. However, it said it “still does not believe medics should be available at weekends for routine appointments or carry out planned operations.”
The document also recommends that GPs work closer with diagnostic, specialist care, community health and social care teams, particularly in urgent care and out-of-hours services.
Mr Nagpaul said: “General practices should play a part within a whole system approach to addressing urgent care and hospital admissions.”
He criticised the “the whole spectrum of urgent care, from starting at the call handling 111 through to GP out of hour services, walk-in centres, A&E minors, ambulance services and social care” as being “provided in a disparate and disjointed manner”.
Instead, he suggested that urgent services should be commissioned “as an integrated whole” by clinical commissioning groups, with “shared ownership of providing urgent care.”
“This will be the whole system solution to reducing unnecessary hospital attendances and admissions,” he added.
“We also need GP practices to be better integrated with community nursing services,” Mr Nagpaul said. “Practices have no real say in how community nurse provides care for that practice. We need to align.”
He suggested that community nurses “could be shared across practices”, with “direct management of these nurses through practices themselves”.