The NHS needs to provide “proper out-of-hospital care” to be sustainable in future, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said as he stepped up efforts to persuade doctors to accept sweeping reforms to the way they work.
He called for GPs to strengthen their relationship with patients in their care, including taking a greater responsibility for vulnerable people on their lists. Mr Hunt also outlined plans for a seven-day NHS, with hospital patients receiving the same quality of care at the weekend.
The Health Secretary used an interview with the Sunday Times to set out plans for a hit squad of specially trained senior doctors who could be sent in to take over failing hospitals.
Asked if the NHS was sustainable in its present form, Mr Hunt told the newspaper: “I think it’s sustainable in the medium term if we are prepared to take some difficult decisions about how we deliver healthcare. But we are up for those decisions.”
He added: “If we’re really going to be sustainable we need to have proper out-of-hospital care.”
This meant family doctors had to “go back to the days” when they checked on vulnerable patients.
“It may not be the GP personally doing every single home visit, but I think we need to rediscover and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and that sense of accountability and responsibility for the most vulnerable people on GPs’ lists,” he said.