Health secretary Sajid Javid is considering whether to nationalise GPs as a way to reduce hospitalisations.
Shaking to the core the 70-year-old NHS structure, Javid’s plan could mark the end of GP surgeries as doctors would directly be employed by hospital trusts.
“Whilst there are some strengths to the system of primary care, it’s also clear that the historic separation of general practice from the wider healthcare system as created in 1948 comes with considerable drawbacks including an underinvestment in prevention,” Javid said in a letter seen by the Times.
In the letter, the secretary has also added he will launch “an independent review of the future of primary care,” examining how “workforce, business models and GPs work with the other parts of the NHS such as hospitals.”
According to sources, the government will not take over the employment of family doctors, as Javid is currently considering “academy style” hospitals with the freedom to employ GPs directly.
The move is likely to encounter opposition from GPs, who believe their independence is what boosts innovation. Royal College of GPs’ head Martin Marshall said the problem is not the model but the lack of qualified staff.
“There has to be a very good reason for changing a model that works well,” he told the Times.