Monitor to look at whether GP services operate in the best interest of patients
Monitor is to examine the commissioning and provision of GP services in England to see if there are barriers preventing patients from securing access to the best possible care.
The health sector regulator wants to hear from patients, GPs, commissioners and other providers of primary and secondary care.
Monitor is particularly keen to receive evidence on:
- Patients' ability to access GP services, including their ability to switch practices
- The ability for new or existing providers of GP services to develop the scope of the NHS services they offer, including in new locations
- New models of primary care that local health communities are planning or considering and the potential barriers to these being implemented
This is not a formal investigation under Monitor's enforcement powers, nor is it a review of the quality of individual GP practices in England. Under its primary duty to protect and promote the interests of patients Monitor wants to increase its understanding of this important part of the health sector at a time when it is operating under increased pressures.
There are about 8,100 GP practices operating under NHS contracts in England and more than 40,000 fully-trained GPs working within them, in addition to nurses and other health professionals.
GPs not only deliver frontline services to patients, but also have an important role in referring those who need more specialist care, helping people to make informed choices about their health care.
Dr David Bennett, Chairman and Chief executive at Monitor, said: "For many patients, GPs are the first port of call when they access NHS services and general practice has a significant impact on the wider heath sector.
"People want a good service from their GPs, they want to be able to see their regular doctor at times that suit them and they want to be able to make informed choices about their health care.
"This call for evidence is an opportunity for Monitor to learn about any barriers preventing general practitioners from delivering what is best for patients."
Monitor will work closely with organisations across the health sector, some of whom are undertaking related work.
Monitor will publish an update and set out any next steps in the autumn 2013.