“GP at Hand”, the digital GP platform run by private company, Babylon, proposes to set up a stand alone primary care network. Under the new five year contract for GPs, all practices in England and Wales are obliged to join primary care networks for 30-50 000 registered patients. GP at hand currently has 50 000 on its books. Recently growing pressures on GPs to limit waiting times by taking on extra overtime have met with refusal of many GPs to take on the extra work because they are being charged inordinate taxes for the extra hours . But “GP at Hand ” has patients from a wide geographical area bringing into question their capacity to become a PCN. On that basis as the GPC chair, Richard Vautrey has said, a PCN not geographically based is “ completely at variance with “ the place-based model of care promulgated by the NHS.
Londonwide LMC chief exec. Dr Michelle Drage said that plans for GP at Hand to form a PCN could “disrupt the system to the point of destruction….destabilising all current NHS services in London”. She further asked the Health secretary who is a registered patient and public advocate for GP at Hand, “ will all GP practices and networks be governed by the same rule book? “
Warning from the Horse’s Mouth
In a recent lecture to the Royal Society of Medicine NHS chief exec Simon Stephens ( one time lobbyist in the US for private healthcare ) expressed concerns that poorer communities perceived their health services to be at risk of erosion! Thanks for telling us Simon. The concentration of specialist equipment concentrated in certain areas was, he said, eroding the traditional General hospital model. This trend, he continued, “ shows up as protests, political activity and a sense of the tide going out from these Communities” ( reported in HSJ, professional health managers journal 21st May 2019) . Continued erosion would propogate “ third order effects in terms of economic impact and social cohesion”.