doctors waiting listGPs should forge closer links with the wider community to deliver the proposed changes in the GP Contract, according to OnMedica.

This is the message from the NHS Alliance which argues that in addition to playing a ‘central’ role in coordinating care, GPs and practice staff should personally engage with pharmacists, nurses, housing associations and mental health organisations to support them in the task of care planning.

“Local housing service providers are natural allies for GPs, and they should seek them out as partners if they want to provide truly co-ordinated care in their local areas,” said Merron Simpson, NHS Alliance’s housing lead.

But Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, warns that even with a reduction in Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) measures, GPs will not have time to engage in coordinating care in this way.

“CCGs are best placed to get involved with the roles and partnerships described by NHS Alliance as part of wider system redesign. It is important work but this is not something individual GPs or practices could do and nor will the contract changes give them the time to do so,” he said.

“As with any new initiative it will take time for all parties to understand what it will mean in reality, but I'm sure practices will work with their patients to explain this to them over the coming months.”

But Rick Stern, chief executive of the NHS Alliance has urged practices to connect with local agencies.

“Our point is that the wider community is a rich resource that offers considerable opportunities for supporting patients – the formal planning responsibility may rest with CCGs but staff at a practice level may want to develop relationships with agencies who can lighten the load on the GP and the practice. The key point here is seeing patients and the wider community as a source of support rather than another demand on the practice’s time,” he told OnMedica.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that under contract changes GPs will have new responsibilities over and above the much publicised proposal for patients over 75 to have a named GP. Other duties will include co-ordinating care for elderly patients discharged from A&E and regularly reviewing emergency admissions from care homes.