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A faulty production line

Disappointed in the 'new deal'? You are not the only one

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This was the moment that Jeremy Hunt could have shown himself to be a visionary health secretary.

A man that understood the huge challenge that faces the NHS and took a long-term view to ensure its sustainability.

A champion for the kind of personalised, high-quality care in the community that general practice in this country is famous for.

Unfortunately, the ‘new deal’ he has trumpeted as a turning point for general practice is little more than naked political calculation.

I don’t want to sound ‘reflex negative’. There are good things in there. The health secretary clearly gets that the profession is struggling under its current workload.

A £10m emergency support fund to support struggling practices, as called for by Pulse in our Stop Practice Closures campaign is great news. We have spent months highlighting this issue and this fund could give those under threat some breathing space to restructure and ensure they survive. Bravo.

A pledge that every city and most towns will see a ‘visible signs of improvement in primary care facilities’ under the £750m of premises investment promised before the election is a significant investment. A brave move.

The commitment to recruit 10,000 extra primary care staff – including 1,000 physician associates by 2020 - is welcome.

But this is not – in my opinion – anything approaching a ‘new deal’.

Mr Hunt said in his speech that this is just a ‘first step’, but there is scant evidence here that suggests he is really serious about tackling the deep-rooted problems facing general practice.

There is a promise to look at ‘red tape’, but putting NHS England in charge of that piece of work is almost laughable as they generate most of it in the first place.

A ‘national marketing campaign’ to extol the virtues of general practice to medical students is good, but there was very little on how they plan to encourage disillusioned, burnout GPs to stay on.

There was a commitment to ‘explore the idea’ of golden hellos to encourage GPs to work in areas of greatest need. But nothing on urgently addressing the progressive decline in funding crippling practices, or halting PMS reviews and the MPIG withdrawl.

Overall it is a small advance, when a big offer was needed. An opportunity lost. A defining moment lost in the fudge of soundbites and recycled political promises.

And don’t underestimate the health secretary. By presenting this as a ‘new deal’ to the profession, he is lining up his guns to say in a few months: ‘You have had your new deal, now hold up your end of the bargain. Stop complaining and get on with opening seven-days a week.’

He is cleverly manoeuvring the profession into a bind, and unfortunately, GP leaders appear to going along with it.

GPs must be strong and call out precisely what this is. A sticking plaster, when a long-term solution is really needed. Otherwise we could be in real trouble.

New deal? No deal.

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse

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Readers' comments (44)

  • Baker should resign and I should find a better use of my money, RCGP doesn't represent me or my profession any more.

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  • Regrettably neither the BMA nor ŔCGP are capable of pioneering the changes we need and we should withdraw the mandate they claim to represent GP. The lack of principled leadership will aggravate the schism between the political rhetoric and the continued decay of primary care services.

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  • Any practice opening at the weekend is traitorous. It will be aslipery slope to end of OOH and its back to you mate like the good old days lol

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  • Heard Maureen Baker on radio responding to the 'new deal'. Hoping for a robust counter argument outlining the absurdity of the whole idea. Instead a wet and pathetic effort...but utterly predictable. I hope you read these comments and do the decent thing...stand aside and give someone else a are way out of your depth.

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  • I too support the calls for Maureen Baker to resign, she does not represent me. Will someone please stand up for the silent majority and take on the govt. with a mass threat to resign within 3 months. The worst that could happen is we could end up locums and be paid for work that we do!

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  • i'm sorry but people voted for maureen so as i've said before the profession must be split from those who are happy with things or just like to vote in the status quo and those who are unhappy (pulse posters)

    nothing will change until we get leaders who are willing to stand up for grassroots drs and rock the boat rather than looking for honors.

    had the rcgp or gpc started an investigation into alternate models and the cost to the state /individuals of paying for private gps we would have got a proper deal but the bma/gpc/rcgp just roll over to be tickled by their masters.

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  • Unfortunately as a GP Trainer it is mandatory for me to be a member of the RCGP, but I agree with all of those above who are calling for Maureen Baker's resignation, as her comments are so far removed from the views of most grassroots GPs I know as to be laughable.

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  • Vinci Ho

    While I am not surprised of any single bit in this 'deal' from JH. The 'positivity' comes from the 'implications' of his messages rather than the so called promises:
    What really matters now is the next round when GPC and the government sit down to negotiate . GPC needs to 'grow up' to realise the strength and weakness of where it sits ,under this most extraordinary circumstances in the most extraordinary time of history .
    I do believe the politicians need us more than we need them and Tories will need to start thinking about their position in 5 years time for another general election . (You can call me arrogant and narcassitic!)

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  • Resign Maureen Baker , you have let down the whole profession .

    Clever move to give Chaand a CBE and sad that he accepted it . No GP will trust him now , unless he gives an appropriate response about unachievable and inappropriate 7 day working . Balloting the profession well overdue .

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  • Vinci Ho

    There are several fronts in this war:
    (1) Agent Hunt is going to switch on the propaganda media machinery to brainwash and preach the public , supported by all his disciples( you know who!). We need a battle of anti-spinning . Nigel , we appreciate and respect what you guys have done so far.
    (2) Chaand, forget about your CBE, it is 'show time' , go for his jugular . He is not invincible and neither is Darth Vader simply because they need 'something' from us:
    (3) If we to join together or so called confederate , we do that merely to protect all of us , especially the coming generations(yes, you may argue there will be none!), but NOT to expose ourselves to more abuse and bullying.
    I dreamed a dream:
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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