Policy Watch

RCGP Policy Watch
Friday  11 December 2015

Overseas visitors and migrants: extending charges for NHS services (DoH)

The Department of Health launched a consultation on proposed changes to further extend charging for overseas visitors and migrants who use the NHS. Currently, GP practices cannot automatically treat someone as a private patient, or refuse NHS services, because the patient is an overseas visitor. The Government is proposing to recover costs from EEA residents without an EHIC (or Provisional Replacement Certificate) and from non-EEA nationals to whom health surcharge arrangements do not apply.

Care Quality Commission not yet an effective regulator (Commons Committee of Public Accounts)

The Public Accounts Committee raised new concerns about the performance of the Care Quality Commission. The report recognised the Commission has made “substantial progress” since 2012 but Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said “six years after being set up the Care Quality Commission is still not fully effective. There’s too often a long gap between inspections and reports being published - and sometimes an alarming lack of attention to detail when reports are being prepared.”

NHS England to help tackle rising cost of GP indemnity (NHS England)

NHS England announced plans to help GPs cope with extra demand over the winter period by reimbursing the indemnity costs for out-of-hours sessions. NHS England responded to concerns raised by out-of-hours providers by making £2 million available to help with immediate out-of-hours provision while longer term solutions are implemented. Rosamond Roughton, Director of NHS Commissioning, said “rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on GPs and this announcement is just part of the work being done to further support GPs and the wider care primary care workforce”.

Impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on health and social care (Commons Health Committee)

The Commons Health Committee launched an inquiry into the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review on health and social care. The Committee outlines its Terms of Reference for the inquiry, which include: achieving service transformation set out in the Five Year Forward View; impact of the spending review on the integration of health and social care; the cost and implications of new policy objectives such as 7 day services and progress on achieving parity of esteem through funding for mental health services.

NHS shows a ‘deep, continuing and historical contempt for primary care’ (NHS Alliance)

Addressing leaders from across the NHS, Dr Michael Dixon, the outgoing chair of NHS Alliance, stated it is ‘utterly unbelievable’ that the NHS is still dominated by secondary care, highlighted by the increasing number of specialists compared to GPs. Dr Dixon claimed that NHS England’s primary care budget was underspent yet again this year, despite pleas for extra resources, in order to cover financial deficits in hospitals. Dr Dixon also said general practice has carried a disproportionate share of austerity at a time when it has been expected to extend its role.

Digital recommendations for the NHS (Doteveryone)

Martha Lane Fox, Founder of Doteveryone, wrote a letter to Jeremy Hunt providing recommendations on how to increase people’s take-up of internet enabled services in the NHS. The key recommendations made were: focusing on ‘reaching the furthest first’; ensuring free Wi-Fi for all across the NHS estate and building the digital skills of the NHS workforce; working towards every GP practice having 90% of registered patients using online services by 2025.


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