Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to announce changes to GP contracts as part of a drive to improve care for elderly patients.
Hunt, writing in Daily Telegraph, questioned whether the NHS would be “affordable for our children’s generation”, given the UK’s aging population would mean that “more people need more health care”.
He said that changes introduced under the last Labour government had created a system in which it was now “easier to go to A&E and harder to go and see a GP”.
“In fact, we’ve got to a point where A&E staff know some patients better than their own GPs. Of course, GPs don’t want it to be this way, and are themselves working harder than ever before,” he said.
Hunt said Labour had imposed “a whole range of bureaucratic burdens” on GPs and made it “harder for GPs to be family doctors”.
“I’ll be announcing more about the changes we want through this year’s GP contract today [Tuesday],” he said.
“We need a much better way for vulnerable old people to journey through the NHS. They need someone from the service to be keeping tabs on them and championing them through the system all the time – and making sure they’re a name, not a number, whether or not they are in hospital.”
Hunt said getting care for elderly people right would “make the NHS sustainable, and ensure it is still thriving in another 65 years.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that just five of 92 hospital trusts that responded to a Freedom of Information request employed a consultant overnight in A&E departments.
It said that at the other 87 trusts the last consultant goes homes at 8pm, 10pm or midnight.
The Mail used the Freedom of Information Act to ask all NHS hospitals how many consultants worked in A&E overnight and at the weekend. There are about 160 hospital trusts in England and two-thirds of them have A&E departments.