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Gold, incentives and meh

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)

  • 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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