Health minister Norman Lamb has said new arrangements for out-of-hours primary care could be needed to help cut rising demand for emergency services.
Mr Lamb told HSJ he was “acutely aware” that existing arrangements for out-of-hours GP services were a cause of unnecessary hospital admissions.
“One may well imagine that integrated care pioneers may want to come up with a package, if they’re looking at the frail elderly, that doesn’t just operate [GP services] nine to five,” he said.
“All sorts of logjams, weaknesses in the system could be addressed this way.”
Mr Lamb also told HSJ that the GPs should become more widely involved in social care.
He praised the work of GPs in North Elmham, in his Norfolk constituency for taking the initiative on this, saying GPs had managed to cut accident and emergency attendance by working collaboratively with social care: “It needs to be mainstream that GPs are working collaboratively with care homes to proactively manage people’s care so we avoid the revolving door to hospital.”
Royal College of GPs chair Clare Gerada said that out-of-hours services were a source of “discontinuity of care”, but said rising acute demand was down to demographic factors rather than primary care.
She also praised GPs in Hackney as “beacons” for moving to take back their local out-of-hours services from the private provider Harmoni.