GP contracts ‘raise scrutiny and public account matters’
QUESTIONS are being raised about whether the midst of the pandemic crisis was the right time to implement a long-term change to the island’s GP services.
Health & Social Care has insisted that everything was above board when it paid Queen’s Road Medical Practice nearly £700,000 in three months during the worst of Covid-19, which was more than triple what it paid each of the other two primary care providers.
The Healthcare Group received just over £117,000 and Islandhealth was paid just over £150,000.
HSC released a statement last week which set out how all the practices were offered a choice of two different contracts.
The one signed by Queen’s Road commits it to the partnership of purpose, although the details of that vision remain undecided.
Islandhealth and the Healthcare Group rejected both and settled for payment for work done for the pandemic cause.
Deputy John Gollop said there were some scrutiny and public accounts matters raised by the GP contracts.
‘Issues and questions raised include the capacity capability of the GP service in the event of a second corona wave, why the initial predicted worst-case scenario death toll was so bad at 1,200 cases, what modelling concept was used and where the partnership of purpose fits in to the Covid crisis?’
Another question concerns political involvement at HSC or Policy & Resources or Civil Contingencies Authority level on operational procurement costs, executive decision-making, delegation and whether the Jersey alternative model of temporary nationalisation was considered.
‘Indeed, were the two less-cooperative surgeries resistant precisely because they feared incremental long-term greater state or government involvement?’
The president of HSC, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, has said that Covid-19 accelerated the need for a new health delivery model because they did not want low-income or no-income households to encounter barriers when accessing medical help during the pandemic.
The current cost of an average 10-minute GP appointment on the island is generally just over £50.
A new primary care system had been in the cross-hairs of an overarching vision called ‘the partnership of purpose’.
HSC appears keen to move away from the current system where a grant is paid for each appointment to one where a contract is in place with agreed service levels.
A draft of the contract states that there will be a requirement to deliver high quality affordable services, which may include telehealth and telecare at rates set by the States, support for developing community hubs and streamlining the system.
It is understood HSC is keen to move away from primary care being the ‘gatekeeper’ of the health system.