A new report has suggested that care should be moved away from hospitals to the home where possible.
The paper by the King's Fund, titled Commissioning and funding general practice: making the case for family care networks, has said such a move would be appropriate to the needs of an ageing population, which will include many people with multiple medical conditions.
However, it notes this kind of care requires greater resourcing than most GP practices can provide on their own. Its solution to this is the establishment of collaborative arrangements across an area, with this being integrated into a revised GP contract.
This new arrangement would mean a range of new parameters for each practice to deal with, including the funding of "defined" populations, which would not just include the number of patients but also their needs and the resourcing required to meet it. These would number between 25,000 and 100,000.
There would also be a greater focus on outcomes instead of the method of service delivery, plus a shift to proactive management of the health of the local population and swift responses to patients in crisis by GP professionals.
Chief executive of the King’s Fund and co-author of the study Chris Ham said: "This new funding and commissioning model for primary care could offer GPs an important opportunity to lead the way in finding new and innovative ways of working.
"At a time when NHS budgets are increasingly under pressure and the proportion spent on general practice is in decline, these proposals could bring money into general practice if GPs take responsibility for providing and co-ordinating a wider range of services."
The key to making such a system work is to persuade GPs of the value of investing in good organisation and leadership, senior fellow at the fund and lead author of the report Rachel Addicott remarked.
One way GPs could do more would be if they received a greater slice of healthcare funding, the Royal College of General Practitioners believes.
Its chair Dr Maureen Baker recently wrote to all 211 clinical commissioning groups in England to call for such a move.
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