Family doctors are to face a tough new inspection regime under plans announced by Jeremy Hunt.
The health secretary will put forward proposals to introduce a chief inspector of general practice.
The new chief inspector will devise and implement a new system so GP practices will be given ratings, such as those used by the schools inspector Ofsted, and will champion patients’ interests, officials said.
Speaking on Thursday at a leadership summit held by think-tank The King’s Fund, Mr Hunt will divulge plans to implement the “rigorous system of inspection” to ensure that GP practices are providing “effective and responsive care”, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
Mr Hunt will also embellish on plans to provide one-to-one care for elderly patients.
He will say that getting care can be “confusing”, especially for older people who need more than one service.
The minister is expected to tell delegates that patients feel there is “no credible alternative” in out of hours care, so are forced to attend accident and emergency wards - contributing to the current pressures on A&E units.
He will say: “As a member of the public, I want to know my GP. And I want my GP to be someone that knows me and my family.
“Yet we’ve turned GP practices into places where it’s a daily challenge for receptionists to cope with huge call volumes and GPs to get through to all the people they need to see.
“I do not blame NHS staff for this. They are working extremely hard in the face of rising demand, in fact it’s they who are telling me how much better things could be organised.”
Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We support anything that will promote quality in general practice and are open to working with the government and the Care Quality Commission to devise a system that is going to create the right incentives to improve standards, including whether there is a case for introducing a chief inspector of primary care.
“But this must be done without adding to bureaucracy or creating a crude system of overall ratings for GP practices,” she said.
“We need to be clear that any new system of inspection for primary care would be proportionate, supportive, influenced by the [GP] profession, and that it will add value to what the CQC is already doing,” she added.
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