By Vince Shore, Senior Solicitor and Clinical Negligence manager, Leeds.
We have all heard of the ‘postcode lottery’ a term recently associated with the NHS, in relation to primary care for British patients. You would anticipate that adaptations have to be made on a local level to accommodate the different populated areas of the UK. But it is important to note that more and more of us are also bypassing our GP surgeries and other primary care services to head direct to A&E. This can’t all be clocked up to the availability of local care; we need to consider changing social attitudes in this equation too.
In the wake of these emerging trends it raises the question about what will unify the NHS and whether a one-size-fits-all model of primary care is achievable in Britain today.
To tackle these issues head on a three-pronged, integrated approach has been proposed as the most effective strategy for establishing a much stronger, more reliable and more responsive primary care model.
The initial phase would see the introduction of a tariff which does not pay for unnecessary treatments, with the aim of cutting costs, increasing productivity and alleviating a certain amount of pressure on secondary care outlets.
Additionally, there is support for the redeployment of specified NHS staff to frontline care, in an effort to provide an enhanced and more cost-effective service offering and to make a more varied mix of skills available to patients from the outset.
The third and final recommendation outlined is the disposal of NHS assets that are not seen to be fulfilling their purpose. Whilst the closure of medical facilities is often linked to job losses and diminishing standards of care, the reality is that such measures allow funds and staff to be used more effectively elsewhere.
The suggested strategy is by no means a quick fix solution and it would be naïve to assume these reforms would happen overnight. However, by repositioning primary care providers as the first port of call for medical treatment, the NHS will have the power to harness a sustainable future for British healthcare.
For my part, I applaud anything which will improve patient care in the UK and will watch how these recommendations progress with interest.