This site is intended for health professionals only

New DH primary care strategy will lead to funding shake up

Practices that take on new patients to support the government's drive for greater choice will be rewarded with extra funding, as part of the Department of Health's (DH) new primary care strategy.

Changes to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), "reinvigorating" practice-based commissioning (PBC), health checks in pharmacies and GP consultations by email are some of the other plans contained in Our Vision for Primary and Community Care, a new document published as part of the Next Stage Review of the NHS.

This document sets out the future direction for primary and community care in England, and is designed to help patients and the public make "informed decisions and have greater choice and control" in their primary healthcare.

The DH announced that the strategy will build on the £250m extra investment and recent initiatives in primary care. The new plans include reforming practice funding "to reward GPs who take on new patients to support greater patient choice."

This announcement follows on from the decision to phase out the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG), as set out in Lord Darzi's final Next Stage Review report earlier this week.

The primary care strategy also reiterated the plans for everyone with a long-term condition to have their own "personalised care plan" and those with complex health needs a "care co-ordinator" by 2010.

Other plans include:

  • Encouraging patient feedback and greater public accountability for staff working in primary care.
  • Patients will be able to register online and will be able to consult with their GP by telephone or email.
  • A new online system called "myhealthspace" will allow people to access and update their personal care record, to share information with their care team, and book appointments and order repeat prescriptions.
  • Faster and simpler access community-based services such as health checks in high-street pharmacies, walk-in services, and self-referral to physiotherapy or podiatry services.
  • Working with GPs to amend the QOF to help manage the health of high-risk patients and providing stronger incentives for early intervention.
  • Reinvigorating PBC by enabling "high-performing GPs to have greater freedoms to develop new services for their patients, working with other primary and community clinicians"

Health Services Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Our vision for primary care will protect the highly popular and effective system of registering with a local GP, but give family doctors a stronger role in working with other clinicians, local authorities and other organisations to provide the right services, in the right place and at the right time to meet individual needs.

"All of this will only happen by unlocking the talents and professionalism of NHS staff working in primary care, giving them greater freedoms to provide the services their patients want and more control over how they do it, while equipping them with the necessary skills."

Department of Health