23 March 2010
The Ministers for Social Security and Health and Social Services are to outline initial proposals to enable the transformation of general medical care in Jersey over the next 2 years, establishing safe, quality-assured care for Islanders. The measures are urgent to bring Jersey GPs in line with the new requirements of the General Medical Council (GMC), the GPs’ regulatory authority.
Deputy Ian Gorst has lodged a proposition which recommends using the Health Insurance Fund as a first step to modernise patient care. Instead of raising charges to patients, GPs will use the extra funding towards meeting the costs which the requirements of the GMC brings, and also to introduce improved and consistent standards of care for people suffering from a range of diseases, in particular those of a chronic nature.
These new systems have become urgently necessary since the GMC announced a ‘revalidation’ process in 2009 which requires all GPs to meet the standards of good general practice set out by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP). GPs who fail to do this could lose their license to practice from 2011. This followed the fallout from the Harold Shipman enquiry and other problems in the UK.
The Health Insurance Fund is currently in surplus and the proposed changes will mean that money already paid into the fund can be used for the purpose that it was intended, to benefit patient general medical care. In any event, in the longer term, additional contributions will be needed for the Fund, particularly as the effects of the ageing population are felt.
The proposition will use the legislation currently in place to increase the Medical Benefit, which subsidises all visits to the GP, from £15 to £19. However over time, proposed law changes will mean that only GPs and practices which meet the new quality standards will be paid amounts equivalent to this increase.
Deputy Gorst said “Primary medical care in Jersey has been lagging behind developments seen in other parts of the world. This proposition sets out substantial steps towards a better, integrated service for Islanders. It will also give the GMC the assurance of quality they require while increasing accountability, not to mention the quality of care in the Island."
He added “I’m convinced that the proposals outlined, which were developed in genuine partnership between GP representatives, Health and Social Services and Social Security Departments, will enable very real improvements to be made to the health of Islanders, drawing upon standards validated from experience elsewhere and upon expertise already established in the UK.”
If approved the proposition will enable over the longer term:
- improvements in community health care by introducing new services at GP surgeries
- avert the crisis of GPs failing to satisfy the new GMC requirements
- introduce regulation, monitor performance and quality information
- introduce new information systems to underpin better organised care.
The proposals have been welcomed by the Primary Care Body, the organisation which represents GPs in Jersey. Dr Philippa Venn said: “Demonstrating and improving quality standards in General Practice is hugely important to the GPs in Jersey. This initiative will allow us to understand, through the collection of data, the health needs of our patients and we anticipate that, particularly for those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems, we can improve the health of the Island.
“The proposition also helps to put in place the regulation that is fundamental to reassure the public that their GPs are up-to-date and fit to practice.”