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Pulse speaks with Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with Pulse about seven-day opening, GP numbers and whether he regrets the NHS reforms in an exclusive Q&A

David Cameron - SINGLE USE ONLY

Isn’t promising seven-day access to GPs ludicrous, when waiting times for appointments are increasing and we don’t have enough GPs to service core hours?

In modern Britain, where people have busy lives balancing work and family commitments, I think it is right that we look at making sure people are able to see their GP at a time that suits them.

The Challenge Fund gives GPs the opportunity to look at how to provide a more flexible and efficient service to their patients, which in turn should help deal with issues like waiting times.

This might mean greater use of technology in terms of video conference software and online consultations, as well as more appointments at convenient times for patients.

The initial feedback from GPs is that this has been an incredibly positive step and both they and patients are seeing the benefits.

Why is the funding for your GP access challenge fund non-recurrent?

The Fund was set up to get GPs thinking about how to adapt service so they can improve their offer to patients, not to simply create a new funding stream.

We are seeing lots of innovative ideas being tested in terms of how patients access services and supporting patients with complex needs.

I want to see GPs themselves deciding what works and what doesn’t, and crucially how best to make these innovations part of their everyday work.

Why are you promising 5,000 new GPs, when the number of filled places for GP training are dropping?

The simple fact is that we need more doctors and more GPs in particular. We expect to train thousands of GPs every year from 2016 onwards, with incentives to encourage medical trainees to move into primary care.

But it’s not just about new GPs. We want to see more flexible working for GPs considering early retirement and to look at encouraging career breakers back into work.

Making sure we have the right number of well-trained, motivated staff is key to the future of care in this country.

Many GPs think this Government has run a concerted campaign to disparage GPs. How do you respond to this?

I think if you look at what we’ve done over the last five years, it is simply not true.

GPs have been at the heart of much of our work on the NHS.

First, we put decision-making, and lot of spending power, into the hands of GPs as part of the health reforms. Second, we have looked to strengthen the role of GPs in how we provide care, with the introduction of the named-GP scheme, so the most vulnerable people get personal care from someone they know. And finally, we put a big emphasis on bringing forward more GPs so as a country we have the capacity to provide the sort of care we all want, with over 1500 more working or training during this Parliament and more to come in the next.

Of course, there are pressures on all parts of the health system and that includes primary care. And there is a need to modernise and find efficiency savings as we move forward. But for as long as I am Prime Minister, I want the Government to work with the profession to crack these problems.

Many GPs say the NHS reforms introduced by your Government have fragmented patient care. Do you regret these reforms now?

I don’t accept that.

It was clear when I came into office that we needed to modernise the NHS, to get rid of waste and top-down management, and to give more flexibility to clinicians so they can deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.

We now have an NHS where decision making is in the hands of clinicians and doctors, people who know what’s best for patients. We have taken big strides in terms of efficiency savings, with around £20bn expected to be saved over this Parliament.

And I believe patients are now getting better care than ever before thanks to important schemes such as the integration pioneers, ‘vanguards’, and the Better Care Fund. We now have thousands of extra doctors and nurses treating more patients than ever before; better and safer care – whether in overall survival rates, public health legislation, cancer care, or dementia. I am really proud of the progress we have made on all of these issues.

And there is more to come. Just look at the recent announcement from Greater Manchester in terms of integration between primary and social care. That is the sort of innovation and integration that is possible now, which will only advance patient care.

Why have you not promised to match the £8bn Simon Stevens has asked for to ensure the NHS can survive the next five years?

It is worth remembering that the NHS budget will have gone up by around £12.9 billion over this Parliament and so the money is going in already.

We are working closely with Simon on the Five Year Forward View and our commitment of an additional £2bn in the 2014 Autumn Statement provides the funding Simon has said is needed for the NHS in this coming year.

And I have been very clear that in the next Parliament, we’ll increase spending in real terms every year.

Of course, we need to keep going with the efficiency savings and there will be tough decisions ahead.

But I believe Simon’s plan is achievable.

We should never forget that you cannot have a strong NHS without a strong economy, and we must continue to live within our means and manage down the deficit. That will remain at the very heart of my plan for the country.

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Readers' comments (13)

  • Vinci Ho

    Nigel
    PULSE actually has the privilege to interview PM who obviously had a problem with the TV broadcaster ,being so ,so afraid of these TV debates.
    Good for you,Nigel

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  • Mr Cameron's NHS is all about ideology not patients.

    The simple fact is there are not the GPs in the country to service the consumer model the Prime Minister is promoting. Instead of looking at sustainable ways to meet peoples needs and shared responsibility to look after one-another, he presides over a department of health obsessed with gimmicks like remote monitoring and blaming GPs for being overwhelmed by the self obsessed, individualist patient demand he stokes.

    We are overburdened, over-regulated and under-resourced. It's time Mr Cameron woke up to these simple truths.

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  • I can invite him to sit with me in OOH, he will know how fragmented care has become. We are all lost within NHS. It is pathetic, patients reaching home from hospital discharge at 22.00, being told call 111. The OOH doctors have zero information about the events in the hospital.

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  • To be fair to GPs, this government has made anti GP campaign, the politicians cannot deny this. It might not be him but his team certainly has.

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  • Did he actually answer any of the questions??

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  • If anything further was needed to show how out of touch David Cameron is, this interview would supply it!
    I cannot see any attempt to answer the questions or even to admit that there were any problems in the first place!
    However there was one significant piece - a tacit admission that the NHS was targeted *before* the last election:"I don’t accept that.
    It was clear when I came into office that we needed to modernise the NHS, to get rid of waste and top-down management, and to give more flexibility to clinicians so they can deliver the best possible outcomes for patients."
    So is he admitting - publicly - that he lied to the electorate -"No top-down reorganisation of the NHS" - before the 2010 election - yet expects the electorate to believe him in 2015?

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  • The prime minister mentioned GPs twice in the election debate. 8-8 mate is impossible with lack of GPs and drowning admin workloads. We will be falling over ourselves to burnout faster than we already are, see less of our family and meet more unreasonable wants NOT clinical needs of patients. If you're unwell come out of work and put your health first. Doctors have lives too.

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  • For what it's worth:
    a) This was a 'Q & A', not a real interview
    b) I suspect the questions were emailed to Tory HQ and answered by a spotty herbert, not by Cameron
    c) It's crude propaganda, nothing more.

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  • I do not think he is in real world. Services are badly fregmented and people suffers. Not any party can do except inject lots of money,bring high moral in staff and communicate with proffesion. Young doctor does not want responsibilty and wanted to work salaried gp and part time.
    This not inter view. This is Q nd A session. You get same reply what ever quertion you ask him

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  • Tories are ideologically opposed to the NHS . Look who the secretary of state for health is - Jeremy Hunt who co-authored a paper entitled " Direct Democracy : An Agenda for a New Model Party ", which called for the NHS to be denationalised and replaced with a national insurance model . Hunt privately called for the NHS tribute in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics to be removed .

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