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a matt hancock imageJuly 24 2018

New Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for investment in primary care and community pharmacies “so people don’t need to go to hospital.”

Setting out his priorities having taken over from Jeremy Hunt earlier this month, Mr Hancock said there were “three areas where we must make swift and decisive progress for that plan to be a success.” His early priorities across the whole health and social care system are: workforce; technology; and early prevention.

In terms of workforce, Mr Hancock said: “GPs need more assistance to tackle with their substantial workloads. There is currently a review of GP partnerships ongoing but I also want to see more training to those pharmacists based in GP surgeries and more staff to support them.”

Referring to the additional £20 million that the Prime Minister had pledged for the NHS, he said: “We must take a holistic approach to prevention:

  • to reduce the over-prescription of unsophisticated drugs in favour of approaches like social prescribing which address someone’s physical and mental well-being;
  • to make the investment in primary care and community pharmacies so people don’t need to go to hospital;
  • to empower people to keep themselves more healthy at home.”

Referring to his passion for technology, Mr Hancock said: “I love using modern technology myself. Not only do I have my own app for communicating with my constituents here in West Suffolk, but as you may have heard I use an app for my GP.

“The discussion around my use of a Babylon NHS GP, which works brilliantly for me, has been instructive. Some people have complained that the rules don’t work for care provided in this revolutionary new way. Others have said the algorithms sometimes throw up errors.

“Emphatically the way forward is not to curb the technology – it’s to keep improving it and – only if we need to – change the rules so we can harness new technology in a way that works for everyone: patient and practitioner.”

Responding to the speech, RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “It is encouraging that the new Secretary of State seems to have recognised the need to invest in primary care and the prevention of disease, and also that he has recognised the importance of increasing the availability of social prescribing opportunities to complement the evidence-based treatments we offer for physical and psychological distress in our patients.

“But while there is reference to GP workload, we would have liked more explicit emphasis on Mr Hancock's plans for increasing the number of ‘real’ GPs providing frontline care to patients.”

The RCGP has written to the Health Secretary outlining concerns about the workload in general practice and the need to recruit more GPs.

“We hope to meet with Mr Hancock as a matter of urgency to discuss how we can tackle these issues, and ensure that general practice is properly resourced and GPs are properly supported to do their jobs of providing safe and innovative high quality care to patients,” said Prof Stokes-Lampard.

Links:
Department of Health and Social Care – Secretary of State’s speech      
RCGP response 

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