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All practices to ensure their patients 'have opportunity' to access seven-day services by 2020

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it will fall on GP practices to ensure their patients can book routine GP appointments 8am-8pm, seven days a week by 2020 – even if they do not provide it themselves.

Questioned today by the House of Commons health committee, Mr Hunt promised that he would write to ‘every GP practice’ in the country this year to inform them of how much money the Government plans to spend on general practice.

He said this would follow the Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review later this year, and would clarify what savings the Government is expecting NHS England to achieve and how the NHS would access the extra promised £8bn funding.

The health secretary emphasised that he was not expecting every GP practice to provide seven-day routine access.

However, he added: ‘What we are saying is that every practice needs to offer its patients the opportunity to have routine appointments 8am-8pm in the week and over the weekend.

‘But that might be at a neighbouring practice, it may be via Skype, or it might be through some federated arrangement.’

Mr Hunt said he thought this was ‘achievable by the end of this Parliament’ in 2020, and that some GPs may choose to offer enhanced access by ‘recruiting extra help to offer those services so that they don’t themselves work in the evenings and weekends’.

Asked how much he thought the rollout of seven-day access would cost, Mr Hunt claimed he projected it in the ‘hundreds of millions rather than billions’.

However, the RCGP has said the Government’s plans could cost ‘over £1bn per year’.

The health secretary also said that there would be greater clarity about spending on general practice after the Government-wide Comprehensive Spending Review later this autumn, and that the ‘transformation of general practice’ was among the priorities on his list of requests to the Treasury.

The plans to transform general practice include the new models of care described in the NHS Five Year Forward View, and the recruitment of 5,000 extra GPs.

This would help the NHS save ‘potentially 20% of the £22bn savings that we need to find in the NHS in England’, by ‘catching illnesses earlier’.

He said ‘that means backing GPs in doing what they do better than everyone else’.

Mr Hunt said: ‘My intention is that at the end of the year, or thereabouts, we will write to every GP surgery, post the spending round, so that we can actually say to people we now have a settlement with the Treasury, this is the spending profile for the next few years, this is how you can see investment going into general practice and this is how we’re going to address those problems.’

He said: ‘It is really giving them the ability to restore that sense of vocation in what they do… restoring the magic of general practice. That is what we need to do.’

Readers' comments (51)

  • Words fail me. No contract negotiation. No real appreciation that there is no capacity spare. That he manages the most demoralised primary care workforce for a generation. Is this Don Quixote in disguise?

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  • Wait for Maureen to welcome the announcement and Chaand to say it needs careful investigation.

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  • I think we would love to have some 'magic' restored to general practice, particularly if it enables us to use a wand point it at Jeremy Hunt and say Expelliarmus.

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  • Well done Mr Hunt.Patients will be alot happy with this
    announcement as they can see their gp routinely after work.but its not good news for GP as it is already overstretched.

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  • very likely missed a Counselling session and Anti-psychotic medication this week.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • Rupen, are you referring to Mr Hunt as I candidly agree he does look a bit like that from the picture?

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  • I don't see it written here what the punishment will be if we don't do this? How about we just ignore him? Refuse to work with him, if Parliament won't debate our motion of no confidence?

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  • Took Early Retirement

    C'mon. 2020 is aeons away in politics. By then Mr cHunt will have been forgotten. He'll be minister of state for Millwall.

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  • What is it with all these awful Jeremys? Used to be such an inoffensive name. Jeremy is playing nicely on the swing wearing a sweater sort of thing. Now its Jeremy is doing frightful things to the cat.

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  • On the brighter side, if we take just his quote in the article, practices will be allowed to outsource it to a Skype call centre anywhere in the world.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha , 2020 not next year.
    I think the virus , FOV220,000, agent Hunt is carrying has started to 'disseminate' .

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  • Five years... Not long to find a heck of a lot more GPS and money. And receptionists, cleaners, nurses etcetc.
    At least he is saying it can be via federations etc, kind of what is already being done in some places. And how generous of him to suggest we could employ extra people if we didn't want to see patients 56 hours per week (plus many hours admin). When's the next election??!

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  • I think we should follow the example of 24 hr banking and forward calls to a indian call centre after office hours or just allow internet acess and skype to the same call centre.When was the last time you could see someone in the flesh after bank closing,or they even providedanywhere near a normal service on etended opening.

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  • Which planet is he on??
    Doh have cut funding and allowed substitution with nurses and now health care assistants.
    There are less GP appointments now that there where in 2010, and less than last year

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  • I spy an easy dodge here. All patients have the opportunity to book routine appts 8-8 Sat and Sun with our local provider; we have chosen Cedars Sinai primary care in Los Angeles, who will tend to all your needs, for just $500 per consult. Transport is of course, your problem.

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  • Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
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    we are so royally taken from behind and yet all we do is say gimme gimme gimme some more after midnight too

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
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    Ha ha

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  • The most interesting thing he has said is that he does not expect EVERY GP surgery to offer routine 12/7 opening, rather redirect them to alternate providers. This is now on the verge of being so watered down it is meaningless. Most people can already see "some Dr" at the weekend, but they really want (not need) their own Dr to be at their beck and call all day every day. This Rolls Royce service is not achievable with Skoda funding. The easy tweak here surely is that as we already redirect people to an alternate provider -ooh- when we are shut, just beef up OOH to offer bookable slots, perhaps offer Crown indemnity to them to help GP recruitment, and we can keep things exactly as is. Which is to say we are sinking, but at least we can stop Jezza drilling holes in our hull.

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  • "Mr Hunt promised that he would write to ‘every GP practice’ in the country this year to inform them of how much money the Government plans to spend on general practice."............IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. Is he deaf, daft or devious? There are not enough GPs and we need to prioritise clinically, not politically.

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  • "It is really giving them the ability to restore that sense of vocation in what they do… restoring the magic of general practice. That is what we need to do" - is the man delusional? How is having to provide 12 hour access 7 days a week going to do that, Sunshine, when we don't have enough doctors for 5 days a week? Moreover, those in genuine need will suffer as OOH services are plundered to cover the routine stuff.

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  • Has Mr Hunt actually investigated this properly? Before hastening the destruction of effective general practice, Hunt really must first investigate how many routine appointments are genuinely and clinically needed out of hours. This figure (based on need, not a general vague "would you like to see your GP at a weekend?" impression) once studied and agreed must then be divided by the number of practices to see how many per practice. Only once we have some idea of need, additional opening might be considered were appropriate funding and personnel available. Failing this, employers need to be reasonable in allowing medical time off.

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  • Thank heavens I have already resigned from my partnership.

    I have to implement nothing. I shall just watch.

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  • 'Moreover, those in genuine need will suffer as OOH services are plundered to cover the routine stuff.'

    Thus creating the environment to implement OOH return to all practices as services fail.

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  • there will enough PAs.

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  • that will be exciting when we consult patients on skype.
    where is the tummy pain?How do i palpate the abdomen.!!!See your own GP tomorrow!!

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  • For GOD SAKE!

    why are you still there UK DOCTORS??? another 5years of this man and his arrogant orders ??

    LEAVE WHILE YOU CAN AND HOWEVER YOU CAN!

    RETIRE LOCUM EMIGRATE......thats all you can do

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  • What is it about Health ministers and Skype.....as if it's some magical panacea to solve all the woes of primary care. He is genuinely delusional.

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  • Locally several hubs have been set up to provide the opportunity to see a nurse or GP at the weekends. The weeks go by and they're nowhere near 100% utilised. Absolute waste of time and money.

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  • Bob Hodges

    There WON'T be enough PAs either!

    I'm something of an advocate in terms of PAs in primary care as well - we're not training enough of them EITHER.

    This will be watered down so much as to be meaningless just like the way we have to publish our 'earnings' next year has turned out. Lots of GPs will be publishing earnings (net of expenses and before non GMS income) of under £10k!

    I foresee that there will be so few appointments bookable, that it will be 'technically' possible, but not 'practically' possible.

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  • Am startled by views of colleagues and anyone reading this will be shocked by the negativity displayed by such professionals.

    It's clear that we have 'the wrong type' of GPs within the present generation. The fault must be in recruitment at university and we need to look seriously at the caliber of medical students that are coming through.

    We should make it clear that being a GP is not a job or career option.

    Do not become a GP if you want;


    1. Money - there are lot's of careers out there that pay more than General Practice and GP pay is likely to fall further so don't do the job for that reason. Pay has fallen for several years and there is no new money. Expect pay to fall further to about 40-50 k per year but expenses to rise to 10-15 k a year. Go and do any other career as it will pay more.

    2. Security - being a doctor is risky and has become very risky. If you think getting into medical school is tough then getting graduated and into a training program is tougher. At any point you can fail and be left with a large debt. It is perfectly possible to make an error in good faith the day after you become a GP and find yourself struck off with no career. In addition, you can be 'tried' multiple times for the same incident and find yourself in prison even though you may have been doing your best.

    3. Family life - having a family or taking maternity/paternity leave is viewed negatively and as the need to work longer and harder increases do not expect any sympathy if you want to spend time with your family or even if you are ill. Your family is the 'NHS' and your priority should be your patients. If you become ill you are a liability and should exclude yourself from practice for patient safety. So do not become a GP if you are ill, planning to become ill or might be come ill in the future. Do not be a GP if you want a family or planning to have a family in the future.

    4. Respect - if you want respect become a plumber.

    being a GP is a vocation and you must give yourself to the cause - the NHS and patients. Nothing less will be expected. This view is endorsed by the BMA and RCGP who will fully support Jeremy Hunt.

    Ignore the other pulse posters as they are a minority view who expect fairness, family life, decent pay etc that's not what being an NHS GP is about.

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  • hahaha brilliant comment 9:16. I'm hoping to emigrate soon though so thankfully none of it will affect me :-)

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  • Just heard stories today at Conference: The Wounded Healer - Helping Each Other to Care in the Modern Health Service

    A GP worked from 6am for 24 hours regularly on day off to do admin and paperwork. Yes that's round the clock (am thinking perhaps a Friday completer-finisher?)

    Learnt of a partnership agreement which forces GPs to login remotely from home DAILY to tend to results etc even when not working.

    Practice meetings in the evenings until midnight.

    12 hour days are normal for everyone!

    None of us have any vocation left in us obviously, but do have some craziness left in us. Therefore I can only assume that Mr Hunt's idea of "vocation" must be some deluded notion of even more masochistic self-flagellation....

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  • Skype surgeries..Brilliant I can log in from home with my bowl of porridge, wearing my undies. 'No Mrs Wilson I'm not sure I can tell. Put your butt nearer the screen... Nope, your webcam is terrible, you'd better show that to Dr Jones at the surgery..'

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  • Anonymous | Salaried GP | 15 September 2015 9:16pm

    Your dry drollness is much appreciated.

    I wish such excellent commenters didn't have to post anonymously, but understand the reasons why.

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  • Why do u partner types let the government dictate how and when you should work. Professional people should be the ones saying when they will work and how much they will charge. time to grow some balls. don't sign their poxy contracts. foxtrot Oscar Chunt

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  • Banks and Pharma generate GDP. The NHS is a huge drain on GDP. The financial loss for the country will be greater if Dignitas remains illegal in this country. So expect the recent decision by Government to be receded in the future. Even Corbyn will want every last bit of our time for as little as possible.

    This is what will always eventually happen. It is directly analogous to PLCs exploiting their work force. We have to resign from the NHS and form our own Doctor controlled health care system, with our standards. Then invite the Government of the day to contribute costs.

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  • An earlier comment"we should grow some balls"
    I think this will never happen as BMA and RCGP will want to save themselves.These organisations are not fit for purpose.These should be abolished,In my opinion.
    they are just interested in making money or receiving OBE..No body cares about the front line GP's which toil very hard.

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  • I'd appreciate it if people would stop suggesting we locum or emigrate. the NHS will fall apart faster than Jeremy's rich tea biscuit in his cup if we all do that. stick with it. Mr Hunt and co. are farts in the wind. we'll be here long after he goes and so will the NHS

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  • If they look to save £22 billion from General practice
    It will disappear

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  • We offer 24 hr service 365 days but pay to get cover
    What different service is needed

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  • The problem GP'S have is with the BMA and RCGP.
    We pay our fees and they have not protected us, the patient or the NHS.
    The BMA needs to say what it is possible for each GP to provide, and the time and money this will require.
    They need to make sure that GP's are paid properly for this.
    The governement can then decide what the country can afford to purchase.
    It is for the governement to get the doctors as well, if there are not enough for the level of care they need.
    It is ridiculous to expect human beings to work 12 hours a day in such a pressurised environment. It is clearly unsafe and damaging to our health.
    The fact that we still pay money to the BMA and RCGP says something about us as a group.And I thought that we were supposed to be intelligent.

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  • BMA and RCGP are just like UN in maintaining peace in the world.America can act on his own and doesnt need ratification by other member states.I think Mr Hunt is acting as Uncle SAM here.

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  • In 2020, if the NHS still exists, the next headline will be "All practices to ensure their patients 'have opportunity' to access seven-day services by 2040."

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  • So what about the evidence from the pilots that, by and large, this wasn't cost effective and wasn't what the public wanted. Oh no, wait, we're not interested in evidence, we're just interested in ideology...

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  • at this rate Jeremy Hunt will be manning the surgeries himself on the weekends and evenings.

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  • We need to be able to provide appts 8-8 Sat/Sun. Does not mean, we have to see half the world those days. Routine stuff only. Just take a day off during the week and work either Sat/Sun. Usual working day, same old stuff, perhaps catch up on paperwork etc. No visits though!

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  • Sorry, forgot to add above. This is coming regardless. Best gear up. This is aimed at 2020 so even Labour will want a piece of it as the public and daily mail readers love it.

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  • Only a problem for small practices who do not merge and scale up in time.

    The rest is just fluff.

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  • Jeremy, do you really believe your own ...hype.
    I see referring to 'vocation' when what you mean is, 'work longer hours for less pay', you obviously think if you call it 'vocation' we'll let you continue to shaft general practitioners, and abuse the rest of the medical profession. You managed it with extended hours, when you effective cut our wages. I know your kind, just like a phoney american evangelical preacher.

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