Will ‘Rapid Response’ Work?

The NHS has announced plans to launch new ‘rapid response’ teams in a bid to cut down on the number of people who visit hospitals. These teams will be made up of GPs, physiotherapists and nurses to provide urgent care that will help cut A&E numbers and make sure that people get the treatment they need. Providing 24-hour care, they will not only offer urgent emergency treatment, but will also be able to provide support to recovering patients outside of a hospital environment. So could rapid response be the answer to a long-term problem?

A boost for community care

The Government has announced that there will be an extra £3.5bn real-term annual cash injection in primary and community care by 2023/24. It’s believed that the funding will come from the extra money being given to NHS England as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s 10-year plan for our health services. The money will be used to fund initiatives like the rapid response health teams in a bid to keep hospital resources for those with serious need and reduce the number of unnecessary admissions.

The Prime Minister believes that some patients will be better cared for in their homes than in hospitals. Not only will it be better for some patients welfare, but reducing the number of stays in hospital will also save money and ease pressure on NHS staff.

GPs concerns around rapid response

While rapid response teams could be a useful solution to helping communities, GPs have their concerns. There are fears that as an additional service, GPs will be taken away from their routine roles which could cause problems with recruitment – at a time when GP recruitment is already suffering.

A cash boost for primary and community healthcare services would be used to maintain existing service levels, while new initiatives, like rapid response, would add to GP workload which is already thought to be responsible for GPs feeling ‘burnt out’.

Doctors can see the benefits of having such a scheme in order to provide better community healthcare. Being able to provide more urgent treatment in the community will keep A&E departments free, meaning genuine emergencies can be managed more easily, keeping hospital admissions at a more manageable level. However, the rapid response service is being perceived as GPs doing ‘more for less’. With recruitment issues already a struggle for many practices, it is feared having extra responsibilities will be an even greater challenge. It is thought that the scheme is going to provide more benefit to hospitals than GP surgeries.

Other initiatives being trialled by the NHS include a national scheme that will provide help to care homes, which if successful, could see GPs and other healthcare professionals being assigned to provide treatment.

Currently, out of hours provides one solution to providing care in the community to help patients get treatment out of hours. This saves countless trips to A&E, while making sure patients don’t have to wait to get the the treatment they need. Through out of hours services, patients can choose more flexible care options. GPs, on the other hand, can benefit from the change in working pattern that out of hours offers.

GPs who are interested in working out of hours should check out our jobs page for more information.