Our response to the Secretary of State for Health's speech at The King's Fund

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Responding to the Secretary of State for Health's speech at The King's Fund's NHS leadership and management summit, Candace Imison, Acting Director of Policy at The King's Fund, said:

‘Our independent inquiry into quality in general practice found widespread variations in the quality of care provided by GPs. This issue rarely gets the attention it deserves, so we welcome the emphasis the Secretary of State has placed on it this week.

'The appointment of a new Chief Inspector will give quality in general practice a higher profile and place it on the same footing as hospitals and social care. However, regulation and inspection can only provide a backstop – the main responsibility for quality of care lies with GPs and their practices. It will also be important to focus on other proven ways to drive quality improvement including peer review and making more performance data available to the public.

'GPs need to move from being gatekeepers to navigators, co-ordinating care for patients with complex needs and being held accountable for the quality of care they provide. So we welcome the commitment to ensuring that older patients are supported by accountable clinicians – this will help to deliver integrated care.

'The GP contract does need to change to reflect the way general practice needs to improve. However, it is not the only source of the problems highlighted by the Secretary of State and is not the main driver of pressures in emergency care – the reasons for this are much more complex.

'It is essential for general practice to embrace change to improve the quality of care for patients and meet the challenges of the future. The rhetoric from all sides must now be followed by constructive dialogue and concerted action to ensure this change is delivered.'

Notes to editors

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The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.