Patients who need a GP should be able to see him on the same day, according to a major overhaul that warns that the current system is on the verge of collapse.
The report, commissioned by NHS leaders, says the current model is “not fit for purpose” and patient satisfaction is at the “lowest level”.
Dr. Claire Fuller, who led the review, said that too many patients “tried” for appointments with “insufficient” access to urgent care.
She said the current system was far too “fragmented” with patients able to get help much more easily if the model were made more effective.
Dr Fuller said each area should create “neighborhood teams” to coordinate community care and ensure that urgent care is a priority.
Under the current system, those seeking such assistance can be assured of whether to try their accident and emergency department, emergency room, GP, or local pharmacy, and can be sent from one to the other.
She called for a “unified, systemic approach” to the management of emergency care, to “provide one-day care for patients”.
Such cases do not have to be sent to their own GP, but should be referred to the most appropriate local service and provided with a personal consultation if necessary.
The review states that a rapid response to emergencies is essential to relieve pressure on the NHS and to ensure that GPs are able to provide continuity of care to the patients who need it most.
Patient satisfaction at the “absolute minimum”
“Largely because of this, patient satisfaction with access to the GP is at an all-time low, despite a record number of appointments: Monday’s scramble for 8:00 appointments has now become synonymous with patient frustration,” Dr. Fuller warned.
She said those working in GP practices are now “overcapacity” and warn that “if we leave it as it is, primary care as we know it will become unsustainable in a relatively short time.”
Amanda Pritchard, the NHS’s director general who commissioned the review, is now reviewing the recommendation.
She said: “General practice is the foundation of the NHS, acting as a gateway to healthcare with GPs and other primary care professionals who provide treatment, advice and support to more than one million patients daily.”
Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of GP, said: “The report is reasonably ambitious given the scale of the crisis in general practice.
“We need more details on the proposals for streamlining the urgent approach.”
The latest NHS figures show that 45 percent of GP appointments were on the same day last month. Almost two out of three sessions were face to face, statistics show.