GPs are required (as of April 2014) to allocate a named GP for all patients aged 75 or over and will receive funding of £5 per head of population for this responsibility, which is being added to the regulations for GMS and PMS practices.The role is largely one of oversight and does not mean 24/7 availability of the named GP or that the named GP needs to change their working hours. See GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron Nash's overview of the policy.
The responsibilities of the named GP are to:
- Take lead responsibility for ensuring all appropriate services required under the contract with the practice are delivered to the patient.
- Where required, based on the professional judgement of the named GP, work with relevant associated health and social care professionals to deliver a multi-disciplinary care package that meets the needs of the patient.
- Ensure the physical and psychological needs of the patient are recognised and responded to by the relevant clinicians in the practice.
- Ensure the patient has access to a health check if requested (already a requirement of the GP contract regulations).
Five actions to take now:
Practices can decide for themselves how to allocate responsibility for patients age 75 and over but should be taking the following actions now to meet the 30 June deadline for informing exisiting patients aged 75 or over of their named GP.
- Decide how your practice will allocate named GPs. Ideally allocate patients the GP they usually see or you may allocate according to a GP's special interest or in proportion to the number of sessions worked, so that all GPs have a list for whom they are responsible. Run a search of patients aged 75 or over on your list and, if your clinical system allows it, by usual GP. Bear in mind the (voluntary) unplanned admissions DES includes a requirement for a named, accountable GP for 2% of patients identified as being at risk of unplanned admission to hospital. Many of these patients will be aged 75 or over, so there will be overlap between the two groups of patients.
- Decide how 'named GP' is going to be recorded in patient notes and ensure all relevant members of staff understand where this is recorded.
- Inform all existing patients aged 75 or over of their named GP. This must be achieved by 30 June 2014 and can be done by letter or at their next consultation, in which case you should add a diary reminder for the clinician at next contact. A letter template has been produced by the BMA and is attached here (see right).
- Prepare ahead where a named GPs will be absent for a prolonged period of time (e.g maternity leave or a sabbatical). In this circumstance, patients must be informed and allocated another GP who will take over the named GP role during that period. Note that if a named GP is away for a shorter period (e.g sick or on annual leave) or fully booked, patients should be advised in the normal way and either offered an appointment with the GP when next available or offered an appointment sooner with an alternative clinician.
- Allocate a named GP to new patients within 21 days of their registration. This is now a part of the registration process. Decide on an allocation system as new patients are unlikely to have a preference on registration as they will not necessarily know the GPs. Ensure all staff involved in the registration process understand how patients are to be allocated their named GP and that relevant patients are informed, at registration, of their named GP.
- Fionnuala O'Donnell is a practice manager in Ealing, West London, and a CCG board member.